PA#3, where to go.

By meteomorris on 11 December 2019 · 12

After a sunny Tuesday with loads of fresh snow for the western Alps, today is the opposite. Today, Wednesday another front is moving into the western Alps. It is not a super powerful front, but you may expect 10-30 cm in total untill Thursday afternoon. It's a;; just a warm up. Friday and Saturday will be brutal when there is a lot of snow in the forecast. But be aware: a lot of wind, rising temperatures and a lot of fresh snow will cause a sharp rise in the avalanche danger. In this article:

  • Tuesday was a powder day
  • Avalanche danger has gone up
  • Wednesday some snow, Thursday afternoon some sun
  • A lot of snow for Friday and Saturday
  • HIGH avalanche danger
  • Very mild as of Sunday
  • PA#4 for the South?

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Tuesday was a powder day

Tuesday was a wonderful powder day. After a very snowy start to the week, 20-50, locally 70 cm fresh, was fallen in the northwestern Alps. As promissed, the sun showed itself on Tuesday.

Avalanche danger has gone up

The fresh snow fell with a lot of wind on a snow cover that has been able to radiate for a week. The cohesion between the old and new snow is therefore not good, so that the avalanche risk has gone up.

Wednesday some snow, Thursday afternoon some sun

A new front part of a huge storm north of the British Isles will move into the western Alps today (Wednesday). You may expect accumulations uo to 10-30 centimeters on Thursday morning. The snow line is around 1200 and 1500 meters, but will drop to 800 meters or lower in the night to Thursday. The sun is expected to show itself again on Thursday, with the best chance during the afternoon. Especially the afternoon will be great with cold weather, fresh snow and sun. If you have time on Thursday then it might be your chance to enjoy a beautiful powder day.

A lot of snow on Friday and Saturday

Thursday afternoon the first high clouds from the west slide into the Alps again. It gets a bit milder and it starts raining and snowing. In the French Northern Alps, where the warm air first flows in, the snow line rises towards the 1200-1500 meters, but in the west of Zwisterland and the inneralpine areas, it remains around 800 meters.

Because in the course of Friday morning cold air enters the Alps again through a cold front, the snow line drops during the Friday towards 800-1100 meters. Only in the south of the French Northern Alps it will take a while before the snow line drops because it will take longer for the cold air to get there. But in the end the snow line also drops there, although it is only short-lived.

Up to and including Friday evening, about 50-100 cm of fresh snow is expected in the French Northern Alps, the west and northwest of the French Hautes Alpes and the west and north of Switzerland. Locally this can even be 125 cm or more. But if you go further east, the amounts rapidly decrease.

Expected snow until Friday
Expected snow until Friday

Rapidly falling temperatures, huge amounts of snow that and strong wind above the tree line causes the best powder to be found on Friday will be in those areas where there are 1. trees and 2. there is enough base between the trees. Friday is a treerun day in the western Alps in short and it could be very deep.

Saturday will be a strange day with bizarre and huge differences in the Alps. From the southwest, an elongated dragging front pulls slowly northwards. In the night to Saturday, this already leads to an increase in air temperature in the French Alps. The snow line that fell locally below 1000 meters on Friday starts to rise again towards the 1500 and later even 1800 meters. At the same time, the north side of the Alps is still in the cold air. With a west-north-westerly current, a cold front touches the north side of the Alps, so that in particular the east of Switzerland and the north of Austria see snow for a longer time deeper into the valleys, but here too the snow line will eventually rise.

The milder weather moving in will have consequences for the stability of the snow cover. Lots of fresh snow on Friday, lots of wind and rising temperatures. That will caise produce avalanches. Be aware that the avalanche hazard in large parts of the western Alps will go up to HIGH on Friday and Saturday. Therefore, read your local avalanche message carefully and adjust your plans accordingly.

Very mild as of Sunday

The current will turn south as of Sunday. A very strong southern föhn will test the new snow and it questionable if the snow in the valleys will last until Christmas. Don't be surprised if the air temperature in a number of valleys in the Northern Alps will go up towards 12 degrees or more the following week.

Expected snow for Saturday
Expected snow for Saturday

PA # 3 where to go?

Storm, sometimes sun, lots of snow and rising temperatures at the end. Visibility and avalanche danger are serious issues, but you can still score som really nice powder in the coming days:

  • Thursday: fresh powder in the French Northern Alps and western Switzerland. The lifts are already running in a number of areas.
  • Friday: lots of snow, poor visibility and therefore treeruns. Best spots where lifts run are: Courmayeur, Val d'Isere and Chamonix.
  • Saturday: lots of snow and rising temperatures from the west, a difficult day. You get the best chance of cold snow in the Arlberg.
  • Sunday: it gets milder quickly, but humidity drops. Best conditions well above the tree line everywhere in the areas from Alpe d'Huez towards the Arlberg. In short, the entire northwest.

PA # 4 for the southern Alps?

With a southern upper airflow everythig chancges after Sunday. It will get mild in large parts of the Northern and Western Alps. Very mild. At the same time, the strong southern current is pushing a lot of clouds on the southern side of the Alps and it regularly snows heavily above 1500-2000 meters. Especially the areas south of the Gotthard and in the Piedmont are going to see a lot of snow. PA#4 could be on here next Tuesday.

Thursday-Friday I will further outline my expectations for Saturday and give you a hint where to go for PA#4.

Stay stoked Morris


  • matthewhowson
    matthewhowson op 11 December 2019 · 14:41
    Hi Morris, got a flight booked for Friday night - Sunday night to Geneva, flexible where to go for the weekend, where do you think best and what's classed as the Arlberg please
  • funrise2000
    funrise2000 op 11 December 2019 · 17:29
    @Matthew: Never fly for skiing. You guy waste our clima!
    the pied piper of Hamelin will tell you where to go!
  • Christoph Krake
    Christoph Krake op 11 December 2019 · 22:34
    @funrise2000: totally right! Should be forbidden!!!
  • richinelm
    richinelm op 11 December 2019 · 23:35
    @funrise2000 well said
  • ondras
    ondras op 12 December 2019 · 11:16
    Hey guys, don´t panic. I think we should think about your climate and don´t drive or fly if it´s not necessary. But what is necessary? Travel only to work? To visit friends? And there is not the difference between fly 1000 km and drive 1000 km by car in 2 people.
    If you live in the mountains and you can go skiing 50 km from your home, it´s much better but if mountains are 1000 km from your home then you cannot ski at all?
  • elecas
    elecas op 12 December 2019 · 12:30
    @funrise2000 @Christoph @richinelm and @ondras I made a topic to discuss about the topic. Please, pass by and give your opinion:
  • funrise2000
    funrise2000 op 12 December 2019 · 13:18
    @elecas: the Question was where to go. flying for two days of skiing is completely misplaced! thats the answer.
    Never fly for skiing!
  • funrise2000
    funrise2000 op 12 December 2019 · 13:47
    *message edited by funrise2000 op 12 Dec 2019 13:51 (100% bewerkt)
  • thomasweller
    thomasweller op 13 December 2019 · 08:06

    Sauze @ 8:05am Friday 13/12/19
  • forget
    forget op 13 December 2019 · 08:34
    I use the train
  • forget
    forget op 13 December 2019 · 08:35
    where do you guys believe will be best for pow and no crowds on Sunday close to Zürich . Engelberg is probably packed. Laax too.
  • Fuschetto
    Fuschetto op 13 December 2019 · 11:41
    I use the train forget op 13 Dec 2019 08:34

    Nice choice. I want open a topic about travelling by train to skiing. Follow the forum in the days, friend.


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