PA#22: retour d'est coming up

By meteomorris on 11 April 2019 · 2

The Alps are sandwiched between high pressure in the north and low pressure south of the Alps. This low pressure area in particular is close enough to the Alps to determine the weather in the Alps for the next 96 hours. This leads to a mix of clouds, sun and, from time to time, some light snow in parts of the Alps at first.

Thursday: snow in the Piedmont, Graubünden and main alpine ridge Italy and Austria

A weak low pressure are is hitting the west and south of the Piedmont, Upper Valais, Graubünden and the main alpine ridge between Italy and Austria today. This results in 5-15, locally 20 cm of fresh snow. Because it is fairly mild, snow only falls above 1500-1700 meters, locally even above 2000 meters.

Snowfall on Thursday
Snowfall on Thursday

Friday: some room for the sun locally, southwest and north cloudy

The weather in the Alps is locally pretty calm on Friday. The sun dominates in the main alpine ridge of the French northern Alps, the north of the French southern Alps and Switzerland. Some residual clouds can be annoying in the pre-Alps and in the valleys, but the sun usually shines higher on the mountain. A nice day in those areas where they had some fresh snow on Thursday and the days before. Certainly some kind of powder day on northern slopes.

Exceptions are the extreme southwest, Austria and the northeast of Italy. The air is unstable In the southernmost French Alps, and it could rain, thunder and snow at very high altitudes during the day. It is much colder in Austria and northeastern Italy. Light snow already falls above 800-1000 meters, it is cloudy and it's therefore a difficult day on the slopes, but certainly off-piste.


Saturday and Sunday: upcoming retour d'est

It will soon be cloudy in large parts of the Alps on Saturday. The main alpine ridge in Switzerland and France is an exception, But Austria, Italy, and certainly also the pre-Alps and southern Alps of Switzerland are already full of clouds. It will snow lightly. The precipitation intensifies during the course of Saturday, but especially in the night to Sunday. The snow line with the incoming cold air from the east drops rapidly. It will snow heavily on Sunday.

The biggest question mark is where the exact center of gravity will be. The models still have some doubts about that. The western and southern Piedmont will benefit from heavy snowfall, but the models doubt whether the Monte Rosa or the Ortler region more to the east will pick up the most. For the time being I am assuming it will be the east side of Monte Rosa because with such an pattern in the upper skies, they've picked up the most snow 9 out of 10 times.

Monday: a powder day

The sun returns (temporarily) on Monday and it will be a powder day. A deep powder day.

In short....

It will be a difficult weekend with lots of clouds and often poor visibility. The best chance on some fresh snow will be the main alpine ridge of Switzerland. It will be an even trickier weekend for touring, because incoming clouds make it difficult to plan solid tours. But then Monday ... oh Monday .... An good old-fashioned powder day!

Stay stoked, Morris


  • op 11 April 2019 · 20:07
    Morris, thank you for the forecast. As a visitor unfamiliar with the terrain and weather patterns, it can be really hard to make the best decisions on where head to catch powder, and your site is the best one I've found on the Alps.

    Anyone have any suggestions for an easily accessible location (ideally by train, but by car if needed) that will do well with the snow Sat-Mon? I had been thinking about Zermatt because I know it and know how to get there easily, but unless I am misreading the forecasts on here it looks like they will not get much snow at all - while areas further to the east may get much, much more.

    Any suggestions today would be greatly appreciated!

  • meteomorris
    meteomorris op 13 April 2019 · 08:14
    Sunday-Monday: Corvatsch!
    May the powder be with you.


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