After more than three weeks with a southern stau, the current finally turns west. With last weekend's return d'est, an unprecedented long episode with storms over the Mediterranean has come to an end. The jet stream slowly turns to the west so the French (northern) Alps and western Switzerland will hit the jackpot in the coming week.
In this forecast:
Hereby two points in the southern Alps to show you how much snow has fallen in the last two to three weeks. First of all San Domenico, the pearl near the Simplon. The photos were taken at an elevation of 2100 meters.
The first image is November 12th, great weather and a nice snow pack. Then the second image of this morning. Take a good look again. The lift gates are snowed in, the windows of the cottage in the foreground are almost no longer visible and if you look at it for longer see many more details that make your eyebrows frown. It is deep and to underline that: near the Simplon, a measurement station has recorded a snow cover of almost 3 meters thick.
The second point is the Stelvio Pass. The ski area there is now closed, but the lifts of Sulden am Ortler, Bormio and Livigno are pretty close. The first photo is from November 2nd, then the southern Stau started. The second photo is this morning. A good example of what can happen in three weeks.
Yes, there is now a lot of snow above 1500-2000 meters in the entire southern Alps. What a start of the season.
With the disappearance of the southern current it immediately became milder in the southern Alps. The freezing level for today is calculated at around 2100-2500 meters and this will even be 2400-2700 meters on Tuesday. Only at the highest peaks is it still freezing.
The weather will be cooler after Wednesday, the snow can lose some moisture and after the mild temperatures at the start of this week, the snow cover will continue to settle. Now you can grieve for global warming, but you can also consider it a perfect process of base building. A super thick pack of snow at the end of November that settles itself well is the base for the rest of the season. Every subsequent cold storm is then a reason to head towards the southern Alps.
Three weeks of southern Staus brought lots of snow to the south side of and to the main alpine ridge. Images from the glacier areas in Austria and, for example, Val d'Isère in France also show a lot of snow. But if you move more from the main alpine ridge towards the pre-Alps, the snow cover becomes thinner. Snow clouds from the south rarely get here and the strong Föhn storms have blown away a lot of snow. Where the southern Alps are already far advanced with the winter and they are somewhere in between pre-winter and high-winter, in many areas in the west and north of the Alps it is still pre-winter or even pre-season.
A number of storms still have to pass before you can start freeriding in large parts of the western and northern Alps.
The current in the Alps becomes more westerly from Wednesday. Storm depressions then find their way to the west and northwest of the Alps. That is generally good news for the French Northern Alps and western Switzerland. A significant amount of snow will fall there between Thursday and Saturday and the condotions will improve. It will become a bit colder so that the snow line will drop from 1900 to 1200 meters in the course of the days up to and including Saturday. An area such as Val Thorens (where a riding off-piste is not really possible at the moment) will see its snow cover grow.
What will happen next weekend is very uncertain. The American model hints for snow for the southern Alps for next week again, but this is still highly uncertain.
It is as if King Winter has been waiting for us. For the last two years, Arjen and I, along with a team of designers, editors and not to mention all our friends in the Alps, have worked endlessly on the ultimate freeride guide book: wePowder Guide the Alps. The last two months in particular were intense, working on that last bits. The presses will be running soon and the aim is to ensure that if you order now you'll receive your guide before Christmas. You can read all about our new book here. The guide is available in a limited edition and only the guides from the pre-order (€ 40,00 instead of € 45,00) are exclusively numbered. Order it now and make sure that you don't miss out!
Stay stoked, Morris