Some fresh snow for the northwest, sunny weekend

By meteomorris on 5 February 2019 · 0

PA #12 brought a lot of snow, but the tricky weekend claimed a lot of victims. The avalanche conditions were super tricky, as expected, and there are still reports coming in about fatal accidents. You'll have to be careful the next few days as well. The sun dominates until Wednesday and it gets a little warmer. There will be a weak low pressure are coming in from the northwest on Thursday, which will bring some snow to the northwest of the Alps on Thursday and Friday. The weekend starts sunny again, but a new storm arrives in the course of the Sunday. The prelude to a new PowderAlert. In this forecast:

  • PA#12 brought a lot of fresh snow
  • Avalanche danger (still) critical
  • Sunny weather, but mild
  • After the weekend: new PowderAlert

PA#12 brought a lot of fresh snow

Storm Pirmin was a storm with two faces. It brought a lot of snow, but the avalanche danger in the Alps was critical and we had to be patient. There was an average of about 40-80 cm of fresh snow coming down in almost the entire Alps between Friday and Monday morning. There are also local outliers of up to 150 cm. The snow fell in the western and southern Alps first, but later also in the northern Alps, often deep in the valleys.

Snowfall Piedmont
Snowfall Piedmont

The exception is the far northeast of Italy. On the border with Slovenia and Austria, also called the Alpe Adria, the precipitation below 1500 meters was mostly rain. It was not until the end of the weekend that it was cold enough for the precipitation to fall as snow deep into the valleys. It is therefore the only region where the conditions are not that good, compared to other regions in the Alps. There is a lot of snow just like in the rest of the Alps above the 1500 meters, but the snow cover in the valleys is simply too thin to be able to freeride properly. But we obviously can't complain. There is now so much snow in large parts of the Alps that it is already certain that we can ride steep lines in the high alpine until the end of May. A snow cover that is thicker than 3 meters is no longer rare in large parts of Austria, Switzerland and France.

Thick snow cover
Thick snow cover

Avalanche danger (still) critical

During Snowmageddon in the beginning of January, the avalanche danger was HIGH to EXTREME. Roads were closed and it was quite obvious that this wasn't the time to go out. The avalanche danger dropped again after the snowpack settled. Last weekend, on the other hand, was quite critical. Storm Pirmin brought snow from three directions. It was strong from time to time and the shifting temperatures made it even more complex. The fresh snow regularly fell on top of an old snow cover or a weak snow cover where wind-drifted snow was hidden from the naked eye during the last phase of the storm. The conditions were tricky and are still tricky. It was and is now more dangerous for us freeriders than at the beginning of January. Last weekend's snow has been able to bind only badly to moderately with the old snow cover, and reports from avalanches and avalanche victims are still coming in from all corners of the Alps.

Do not just look at the numbers in the avalanche forecast, but my advice is to also look into the type of problem. A 'high' avalanche danger rating 3 is something else than a 'low' avalanche danger rating 3. With the complex circumstances, knowledge is the key to fresh powder. Knowledge that we have bundled in the Mountain Academy.

Nice weather, but relatively mild

A high pressure area with the name Chloe ensures sunny weather in the Alps today and Wednesday. The nights are clear and cold, and it's sunny during the day but the temperature will rise as well. Mild air is sent into the Alps with a southwestern upstream. The temperature rises to just around or above the freezing level at 2000 meters altitude during the day. Because the supplied air is dry, this ensues that it won't immediately become a wet mess. The sun is still low in this time of winter and the snow just remains on slopes with a northern exposition. Good days to ride powder in short.

Weak front with some snow for the northwest on Thursday

A weak front will head into the Alps on Thursday. A cold front gently touches the northwest of the Alps. 5-15 cm of fresh snow will come down between Chambery and Vorarlberg, locally even more. The snow line drops from 1500 to 900 meters. It will still snow in the night to Friday, with the last precipitation on Friday morning. IJust enough to partially cover the old tracks in teh regions with the most snowfall. The sun comes back in the northwest on Friday and that's the prelude to a sunny, but mild weekend.

Sunny and a mild weekend

Saturday will be sunny, but some higher clouds from the west can move into the Alps in the course of Sunday. On approaching a new storm, the wind turns south and a Föhn can kick in on the north side of the Alps. The sunny weather invites you to go touring. There is a lot of snow everywhere and it's great to go deeper into the backcountry. Check your local avalanche forecast, determine your route and enjoy! Pretty much everything is tracked close to the slopes, but who is willing to hike or skin a bit will have a nice weekend. The temperature will go into the plus during the day, but the nights are clear and cold. Especially on the northern slopes there is still enough fresh powder to be found.

After the weekend: new PowderAlert

During the course of the Sunday (please note, the exact timing can still be changed), a branch of an immense low pressure area pushes through France towards the Alps and the Mediterranean Sea. At the moment, the trajectory is very similar to that of storm Pirmin which brought us PA #12. Whether the new alert will take the same form as Pirmin is difficult to say, but the snow chances increase after Sunday.

Tips for the next couple of days

There is a lot of snow in the entire Alps, but the avalanche situation is still critically critical. It's probably the best call to ride in the trees the next couple of days, where the trees work as anchors for the unstable snow cover. The situation is much more dangerous around and above the tree line. Hopefully the rise in temperature (which makes the snow cover more unstable first) will result in a more stable snow cover during the weekend.

  • Tuesday - Wednesday - Thursday: treeruns in the entire Alps on northern slopes
  • Friday: fresh snow in the northwest and therefore good powder in the ski areas between Chambery and Vorarlberg
  • Saturday - Sunday: touring in the entire Alps

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Stay stoked, Morris


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