Snow for the northeast (little PowderAlert)

By meteomorris on 22 February 2019 · 1

It's snowing in the northeast of the Alps above 1000-1400 meters. You can expect around 10-30 cm, locally even 40 to 50 cm above 1200-1400 meters. But mainly on a layer of somewhat older snow 'influrenced' by the sun or by the wind. Call it a little PowderAlert in frightened times. The sun comes out again on Saturday and Sunday and you can definitely ride some powder. Epic? Certainly not. But because it will be dry again until the end of next week, I have put the label 'PowderAlert' on it.

Let me be honest right away. The word 'powder alert' is included in quotation marks in my video for a reason. There aren't that many high peaks in the northeast. It rains in many villages at lower elevations and the bottom layer is not really great. It is therefore not a PowderAlert as you are used to. It is especially something to help us through the dry spell.

Saturday and Sunday will be powder days above 1200 - 1400 meters in:

High pressure and warm again after the weekend

The weekend is first and foremost pretty cold in the eastern Alps. Cooler continental air is supplied with a cold easterly current. Especially in the Piedmont this can provide some flakes. It will quickly become warmer after Monday. The temperature will rise considerably, certainly in the western Alps, but later also in the eastern Alps. Occasionally some clouds from the east, but if the high pressure area remains as now calculated the sun will dominate. It will be like this until Thursday.

The plan for next week: go out and explore

There are still north faces to be found with powder, the snow cover is pretty stable on northern slopes (but not everywhere in the Alps, so check your local avalanche forecast) and right next to the slopes almost everything is tracked. Watch out for the sun because wet slides are the biggest problem and with the rising temperatures it stays that way. But those who make a decent plan (and have the right skills) can ride these kind of lines. Have fun!

Again my words from last week:

Put an ice cream on a dry day in the sun and it melts quickly, put an ice in the shadow and it takes much longer. Put that same ice cream on a layer of snow in the shade and you will see that it takes even longer before the it melts. This also applies in the mountains. In fact, put an ice cream on a snowy shadow slope in the middle of the winter and you will see that the ice cream does not melt. Even if the temperature in the free atmosphere is clearly in the plus and people are relaxing in the sun.

It works like this. The snow cover itself is not directly susceptible to changes in the air temperature due to the insulating capacities of the snow cover. For warming the snow cover, the following three elements are the most powerful:

  • Direct radiation of the sun
  • Relatively warm air and clouds. This is because the clouds conduct the warmer, humid air into the snow cover
  • Rain

The sun is lower in the winter. The result is that it only directly affects the southern slopes and the steeper western and eastern slopes. On the other slopes, the sun is at most gently touching the snow cover and as a result the warm air can not penetrate the snow cover. As a result, the temperature of the snow cover on more shady slopes, but also those slopes where the sun does not directly hit, remains considerably lower. Often even well below zero. Especially when the nights are clear and the moisture can radiate considerably. Days on which you can see nice amounts of surface hoar on the snow cover on the shadow slopes.

Surface hoar
Surface hoar

Warm but sunny days do not mean that this is the end of the fresh powder snow. You just have to work a bit more for it. It is only mid February and the sun is still relatively low. This means that on slopes with an N, O or NW component you can still ride powder for a while. Especially when there are also trees on these kind of faces, then the sun does not hit the snow cover at all.

But how do you know if a ski area has enough N, O or NW slopes? You can check that out yourself with a compass, but you can also take a look at the exposition maps when you are a wePowder Pro. Below you can see the map of the Tannheimertal as an example.

The red colors on the map indicate the Northern and Northeastern slopes and if they are a bit steep, the snow stays good, light and fresh.

As wePowder Pro you get access to exposition, freeride routes, slope angle maps and the 14-day forecast per resorts (we've got all the resorts in the Alps covered). You never have to miss a dump anymore. When you are wePowder Pro you also have access to 1000+ inspirational freeride routes in the most beautiful freeride areas of the Alps. Sign up as wePowder Pro today. It works great for your karma as well and you'll support the development of the wePowder platform! Thanks!

If you want to ride powder in the coming days, then you should search for:

  1. ski areas with plenyty of northern slopes where the powder remains cold enough;
  2. and look for family areas with lots of trees and little obvious terrain, that scares beginning freeriders.
  3. and delete the usual suspects and areas with a lot of easy access terrain.

With these tips you will certainly find some fresh powder.

Stay stoked Morris


  • opisska
    opisska op 24 February 2019 · 17:08
    Friday in Hinterglemm was very foggy, it was advanterous already to try to find the piste 😃 but I found a small hill to ride a bit of nice fresh powder. Saturday was brilliant, first tracks in the morning above Saalbach, then powder the whole morning - not deep, but certainly rideable! Today in Kitzsteinhorn it looked poor, everything tracked, but the powder stayed fluffy, so riding was still good across the tracks in the endless free terrain in the area. Here I have to disagree slightly with Morris, the "freeride resorts" are actually great when the conditions aren't stellar - very little people were off piste in both.


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