Wednesday and Thursday were great powder days. Beautiful pictures came by via instagram (#wepowder) and for good reason. Even the sun showed itself here and there, but Friday will be completely different. A very active warm front moves into the Alps with lots of snow, a rising snow line and locally a HIGH avalanche risk. The weekend will be sunny, but mild. The southwestern wind picks up considerably on Sunday and it snows again between Sunday afternoon and Tuesday.
Friday starts hopeful in many places. It is snowing and the wind is less strong in the valleys. Below some graphs and shots form this morning. The weather stations in Switzerland do show significant amounts of fresh snow this morning.
Interesting is Chamonix this morning. Loads of fesh snow at the parking lot of Les Grand Montets with am air temperature of -2 degrees. At the same time temperature at Lognan (which is around 1000 meter higher) is around zero.
The inneralpine valleys are filled with cold air which is heavier. It will take a while before this thicker air is gone. When you take a close look at the inneralpine valleys of Switzerland you can see that they stay cooler as well. But warmer air is moving is as the red dots in the northwest do show.
In the eastern alps it is still cold with heavy precipitation.
But make no mistake, there's danger around the corner. The western wind takes the form of a storm above the tree line and maybe even hurricane force. In addition, the snow line rises during the day. Take into account a snow line that rises from 1000 to 1700-2000 meters in the west and from 600 to 1400 or even 1800 meters in the east.
A lot of snow will come down, locally maybe even up to a meter. But due to the strong wind (very large accumulations possible) and the rising temperature (the snow cover is getting heavier), the situation is becoming very tense. In the French Northern Alps, large parts of Switzerland, Vorarlberg and the west of Tyrol, there is a HIGH avalanche risk. Although treeruns initially offer shelter, the rise in temperature will make it increasingly difficult to find dry snow. Please make wise decisions what you can ride in a responsable way tomorrow, but keep in mind that the options will become increasingly limited during the day.
Forget the treeruns this weekend. On Saturday and Sunday you want to ride powder in the higher parts of the Alps as it looks right now. The sun comes out and it becomes very mild. The wind will lie down on Saturday and the freezing level rises sky high towards 3000 meters. Take into account many spontaneous avalanches due to the snowfall and wind of Friday and the rapid rising temperature. It's going to be a tricky Saturday. Ride fast, but ride smart. Check your local avalanche forecast on the area pages on wePowderof or via avalanches.org and adjust your plans accordingly. The sun may bring you in a mild mood, but it will be tricky!
A new front is coming in on Sunday. Cold air will come in from the northwest. The timing is not entirely clear yet, but expect a weather deterioration in the northwest and southwest during Sunday. The rest of the Alps will still have nice weather. Snow is expected to come down on Monday and some extra flakes come down on Tuesday. It is colder again and the snow line drops deeper into the valleys.
Weekend: late winter conditions so you should head to the high alpine. Or to areas in the northwest and north of the Alps with substantial terrain above the tree line. Take into account the rise in temperature and very tricky avalanche conditions.
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Stay stoked, Morris