Around 10-30 cm of fresh snow came down in the northeast on Friday. Locally 40-50 cm came down in the northern Stau areas of Styria, Ober- and Niederösterreich, but only above 1400 meters. It has been been raining below that altitude for a long time and in this part of the Alps the lifts often do not go higher than about 2000 meters.
It will be the only thing that is available in terms of fresh snow the next couple of days. It has been dry for ages in the western Alps and so I went to the northeast with my kids. Traditionally we do not book anything and drive after the storms during their school holidays. We had a great day, but the mild air is coming. We have chosen Irdning as a base, not far from Donnersbach in Styria. Ski areas such as Planneralm, Riesneralm, Tauplitz, Wurzeralm, Hinterstoder and even Krippenstein are not too far away. Our quest was rewarded with powder.
Both boys carry an avalanche beacon. The eldest also has a backpack with shovel and probe. Of course we checked the avalanche forecast in advance. Because of the warmth of the past few days, the fact that the mild air is not really far away and the sun is already a lot higher than the middle of January we chose for those ski areas with lots of north faces where the snow stayed fresh longer. We had a lot of fun from the first to the last lift, knowing that the next couple of days will be very mild.
The map above shows the temperature deviation compared to what is normal for the time of the year at 850 hPa (that's around 1350 meters altitude). It is around 8-12 warmer in the coming days than normal for the time of the year. And then it becomes mild, very mild. Unprecedentedly mild. It will only be freezing in the high alpine during the day on Wednesday and a temperature map like the one below is expected in mid-April and not in the end of February. It's only freezing in the highest parts of the Alps.
Fortunately, the nights are often cold and clear so that the snow cover can loose it's humidity and can recover a bit. As long as humid air is not coming in, you can still find untracked powder on steep northern faces this week.
High pressure is dominant up to and including Thursday. There's no significant precipitation. Possibly that Tuesday/Wednesday might be even milder if some higher clouds bring more moisture in the air. Powder is then a rarity and only with a firm hike or a lot of touring there is still tasty powder to be found. Pay attention to cloud formation and a snow cover that will get humid fast.
The models hint for a change from Friday. High pressure loses its grip on the Alps and fronts may find their way back to the Alps. But it is all very fragile, because:
Important questions of which the answers at the moment do not immediately result in a PowderAlert vibe. Because the snow comes from west to northwest, probably between Thursday and Saturday, according to the current calculations with a high snow line, it may cool off for a while, but then the precipitation may have already dried up and then there are also models that calculate a significant rise in temperature right after the snowfall. I'm not that positive yet, as you will understand.
More news later this week and I hope to have more answers then. Please note that my next update may be on Tuesday. I will do my best to answer your questions in the comments as soon as possible.
Stay stoked, Morris