The fifth storm is hitting the southern side of the Alps today. A lot (and we mean a lot) of snow and rain has come down the last two weeks and the problems are getting bigger and bigger. The normal media in most countries are dominated by the floods in Venice, but at the same time it is snowing heavily on the southern side of the Alps. This provides a lot of local pleasure, especially in the western part of the Southern Alps as can be seen below.
But the intense precipitation now also causes a very tense situation in the eastern part of the Southern Alps. The heavy snow of the past few days is getting too heavy, after which gravity does its work and this kind of large wet slides come down.
It's snowing heavily south of the line Brenner Pass / Hohe Tauern, with the still cold air combined with orographic cooling causing a huge amount of snow. Even deeper into the valleys. The avalanche risk in the region is now at four, or HIGH. Check the current local avalanche forecast HERE.
The result is that public life has come to a halt in many places. Households are without electricity, roads are closed and the train traffic is shut down.
There is already 160 cm of settled snow above Sillian at an altitude of only 2100 meters. Which means that about two to three meters of snow has fallen since the start of November. Especially heavy snow settles more and a settled snow cover is always less thick than the snow that actually fell. Tip: also read this article: the discussion about centimeters.
It is currently getting warmer in the Eastern Alps. With a southern current, milder air is pushed to the eastern Alps and we are already seeing local temperatures rising. Rising temperatures mean wet heavy snow or even rain which makes the snow cover even heavier and increases the chance of large wet snow avalanches. The coming hours will therefore become critical.
Above the expected temperature in the free atmosphere. The problem with the Alps is that there is no such thing as the free atmosphere. Cold air can linger in narrow valleys and, in addition, very intense precipitation in the mountains can cause orographic cooling. The result is that it's above zero in one valley, while it remains cool just one valley away. Where avalanches will come down and how big they will be is impossible to say.
Fortunately Monday and Tuesday will get temporarily cooler and let's hope the sun will come out, although the latter is doubtful (see later in this article). Cold temperatures and clear nights ensure that the moisture can escape from the snow cover and the snow cover can adhere better as a whole. Let's hope that there will be no real catastrophes in the coming hours and that it will be cool enough on Monday / Tuesday.
30-120 cm of fresh snow came down in the southern part of the Eastern Alps in the past 24 hours,. It is expected that it will continue to snow until tonight (Sunday), whereby the intensity will decrease during the afternoon / evening.
According to the ZAMG calculation model, there is already one and a half to two meters of snow with peaks above three meters in large parts of the high alpine of the southern Alps. Those are bizarre quantities.
Certainly in the main alpine ridge there is an unprecedented amount of snow for mid-November and that snow will not go away. It is true that Föhn winds, settling snow, storms and temperature changes will ravage the snow cover, but the base for the coming winter is there.
A new storm will hit the southern Alps on Monday. It is getting colder with snow for the southern side of the Alps. So it gets cooler but with the new snow it is expected that the snow cover will endure even more tension. Fortunately the sun will come out on Monday, but more snow will follow on Tuesday.
It will be quiet in the atmosphere after Wednesday. Although the current is still south, storms remain at a distance for a while. It will then clearly become milder and that will certainly be noticeable in the northern Alps. A northern Föhn will rise and a lot of the snow below 2000-2400 meters will melt away in the coming week. It is also milder on the south side but less due to orographic cooling than on the north side.
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Stay stoked, Morris