PA#11 for the French Alps, PA#12 for the south and....

By meteomorris on 30 January 2019 · 2

An active front pulled into the French northern Alps last night. It snowed heavily early this morning and it will continue to snow there until noon. PA #11 has started.

Les Deux Alpes this morning
Les Deux Alpes this morning

La Rosière
La Rosière

Monday and Tuesday were completely dominated by PA #10. In the northern alpine ridge of Switzerland and the Austrian Vorarlberg fell around 20-40 cm, locally even 50 cm, of snow. Still about 10 cm more than I expected. But as of today, PA #11 is ON. As can be read in my forecast from Monday, it is now ON in the following regions:

I expected about 10-35 cm and that came down according to meteofrance. Less snow fell in the French southern Alps. The exception is the west of the Hautes Alpes, ut the French southern Alps will certainly get their share the next couple of days.

Fresh snow in the northern Alps
Fresh snow in the northern Alps

The sun comes out in the French northern Alps today (Wednesday) and Thursday will also be sunny. Great weather for some powder lines. Besides the fresh snow from PA #11 you can of course also benefit from what PA #10 brought. There is still good powder to be found in:

But be wary of the Föhn from the south. An active storm is on its way to the Alps and the wind from the south will become stronger in the coming days. Snow that was pretty good earlier in the day can transform into windslabs within a few hours. Slopes that were initially still safe then suddenly turn into avalanche dangerous slopes.


PA#12: southwestern Stau with kickback for the north

A very significant storm is heading for France with the Mediterranean as its destination on Thursday. The result is a strong southwestern current. It starts to snow heavily in the French southern Alps, southern Wallis, the northwest of the Piedmont and not to mention Courmayeur in the night from Thursday to Friday. At the same time the wind is very strong north of the main alpine ridge of Switzerland and France.

The snowfall continues on Friday and then moves further to the east. The central north and northeast of Italy, Slovenia and the Austrian Osttirol and Carinthia will get a good amount of snow. On average there is about 30-100 cm of fresh snow in the forecast, but accumulations of up to 200 cm are quite possible. It can even snow in the Po plain. North of the main alpine ridge in Switzerland and France they still have to deal with a strong Föhn.

A so-called northern kickback with snow for the northwest of the Alps follows in the course of the Friday. It will find its way to the rest of the northern Alps later in the weekend. Because the trajectory of the storm is still shifting a bit, I wait with my exact tips until tomorrow.

Southern Föhn = storm slabs = avalanche danger

A lot of wind, even though the sun shines, ensures that the conditions change in no time. The avalanche forecasts in the north are already warning for storm slabs and that will only get worse in the coming days. Therefore, check your local avalanche forecast every day and adapt your plans to it. Your local avalanche forecast can be found on every village page, but also every ski area page on wePowder (in the snow safety block) so you can be sure that you have the local avalanche forecast, but you can also visit this site).

What makes the situation even more complicated is that fresh snow falls down on these fresh wind slabs in the northwest and north of the Alps from the weekend .

Southern Stau = lots of snow + old snow cover = avalanche danger

The snow on the southern side of the Alps comes down in large quantities and often it falls on top of an old snow cover that can serve as an ideal sliding layer. The avalanche danger will therefore increase rapidly. In addition, the snow cover between the trees is still rather thin in a lot of places. Pay attention to loose branches and sharks! Don't worry, you can definitely ride powder on Saturday and Sunday, but keep these hazards in mind and adapt your plans to them!

Long term? Warmer or colder?

A great week with snow everywhere, but in phases:

  • PA #11 for the French northern Alps on Wednesday and Thursday, but an upcoming southern Föhn
  • Friday: snow storm in the south, strong Föhn and very mild in the north
  • Saturday: powder in the south, incoming snow in the northwest
  • More snowfall after the weekend?

Yes, possibly some more snow after the weekend. Sunday seems to become a great day everywhere. There is an extra PowderAlert in the air. More about PA #12 and tips where to go, an answer to the question whether the next PA for the northern Alps will be issued this weekend and an outlook to the long term where warm and cold air are battling tomorrow.

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Stay stoked, Morris


  • tarekbayazid
    tarekbayazid op 30 January 2019 · 19:24
    Morris, this sounds awesome, thank you. I’m set to be in Courmayeur this weekend but a friend is begging me to join him in Champex-Lac. What do you think? Courmayeur sounds like the money spot this weekend. Will Champex be comparable? The current radar doesn’t seem to think so.

    Thank you!!!
  • meteomorris
    meteomorris op 31 January 2019 · 15:23
    Courmayeur will be better on Saturday, Champex probably on Sunday. New update will be launched soon.
    May the powder be with you.


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