Thursday was the last day that the sun wa shining throughout the Alps for a full day. The high-pressure area that kept storms at bay for almost two weeks has been definitively expelled. That results in a first powder day on Saturday, but the real violence starts on Monday. Get ready for an intense week with a lot of snow from time to time and that was necessary too. Records have been broken in large parts of Europe the last couple of days, with a whopping + 13.7 degrees celcius in Zermatt. It was above zero degrees even on the Jungfraujoch at 3580 m altitude.
The northwest and north of the Alps will see the first signs of winter again on Friday and Saturday. It is the prelude to a turbulent week in which we'll see a lot of snow, wind, rain and considerable temperature fluctuations. The new snow will fall on top of an old snow cover that is settled well and that doesn't have a lot of problems that can be triggered by skiers and snowboarders. It will be especially the new snow that we can trigger, but when you have followed a good course you know how to recognize the problems and how to deal with them. It's different with the glide snow avalanches. (Check out this article). They have their own will and it is difficult to predict when they rage down the mountain.
Just like last week when 10-30 cm and locally even 40 to 50 cm of fresh snow came down in the far northeast, some fresh snow will come down on Friday again. But this time for the northwest and later for the pre-Alps of Austria. Expect 10-25 cm of fresh snow, with local outliers towards the 40 cm. That's enough for a powder day in some places after such a long period of drought and to get you used again to that white stuff that is falling from the sky.
The first signs of a weather change could be seen on Thursday: higher clouds, long aircraft stripes and a watery sun.
A front has reached the mainland via England and is responsible for snow in the northwest and later in the north of the Alps. The snow line drops to 1100-1400 meters in the northwest and 1100-700 meters in the northeast of the Alps on Saturday. The largest quantities are expected in the Jura, the areas north of the Swiss northern alpine ridge and the northwest and north of Vorarlberg.
With the fresh snow (10-25, locally 40 cm) above 1700 meters, it is ON on Saturday in:
Think of well-known areas such as Engelberg, the Kleinwalsertal, Damüls and the northwest of Ski Arlberg. But of course there is more. Whoever has been on a powder hunt more often using this map and by thinking carefully will find great powder in the smaller snow magnets full with families.
Saturday starts fresh and sunny so be there early. It gets a bit milder later in the day and a weak front gently touches the Alps. The combination of some moisture and a rising temperature will make the conditions worse. Especially the sun is too warm again for the time of the year. The freezing level goes back to 2000 meters or higher during the weekend.
The weather will really change on Monday. The jet stream finds its way towards the Alps and then it's full throttle. A very active front then collides with the northwest of the Alps. First the snow line is still high, but it will drop rapidly in the course of Monday. For the experts see point 1 on the graph below.
It will snow heavily in the northwest and north of the Alps between Monday and Tuesday. Tuesday will be a new powder day, but it does not take long. The temperature rises again on Wednesday because a new storm is approaching (see point 2 on the graph above) and it will drop rapidly again on Thursday. You can expect a lot of snow again for the French Alps and the north of the Alps.
All of the above is the recipe for the coming week right now. Some details can change in terms, but you can count on a lot of snow in the northwest and north, from time to time a lots of wind (also in the southern Alps), considerable temperature fluctuations (and a snow line that also fluctuates), regularly cloudy due to snowfall in the northwest and north and Föhn-like sunny spells in the south. But for powder you have to be in the northwest and north of the Alps next week.
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I'm off for some research in the field. I'll try to answer the comments as soon as possible!
Stay stoked, Morris