May the powder be with you in 2020! A new year has started with new opportunities. Take your time and don't powder panic too much. It is only the beginning of January and the feeride season will last for a good four months in which you will certainly score some deep powder. If that doesn't work now, then probably later in the season. The chance to score epic conditions in the Alps in the coming week is low. High pressure is continuously nearby and only allows occasional snow clouds to move in. Like for example coming weekend when snow and wind are on the program for the north of Austria. Especially east of Innsbruck, this will bring some snow and a lot of wind. In this article:
Between an immense high-pressure area above the Atlantic Ocean, that has been and will providing excellent surf for days on the coasts of France, Spain and Portugal, and on the other side a storm depression over Scandinavia, a strong northern current is set in motion. Between Friday and Sunday this may result in 5-20, and very locally 30 cm fresh snow on the northern side of the Alps.
The sweetspot of the precipitation is located somewhere around the Dachstein and the Totes Gebirge on the border between Salzburg, Styria and Upper and Lower Austria. The northeast of the Alps in short. At the same time, these snow falls are accompanied by very strong winds above the tree line with speeds that can reach 100 km/h during gusts. Since the fresh snow will fall on an old snow layer of December the 29th and the snowfall is accompanied by strong winds, the avalanche danger will go up above tree line.
With conditions like there tree runs are normally the answer. But in this part of Austria there is less snow below the tree line than usual for the time of year, which means that the possibilities are limited. Nevertheless, on the border between Salzburg, Steiermark and Ober- and Niederösterreich it will be possible to ride some fresh powder, but it is not enough for PA#7. The mix of wind, windslabs and little snow between the trees makes me keep my money in my pocket for better times. But who really wants to go should definitely go.
An alternative to the storm conditions in the East is ski touring and split boarding in the western Alps. Under the influence of high pressure it sunny overthere and the wind is relatively mild. Whoever is willing to go on a tour will certainly find some untracked powder.
Who wants to ride powder this weekend has two choices:
The high pressure area that will ensure good weather in the western Alps this weekend will remain in the vicinity of the Alps for the next 7 to 10 days. This makes it extremely difficult for storm depressions to move into the Alps. The jet stream that is responsible for most of the snow in the Alps is guided around the Alps with a large arc. Take a look at this animation.
Tuesday/Wednesday the jet stream finds its way to the Alps again with some snow for the north side, but otherwise it is the high pressure that is in charge. For snow we have to look at other parts of the world. With high pressure in the Alps we often see snow in Scandinavia, Georgia and the northwest of North America. This is no different in the coming week with a lot of snow on the program for the west of Canada and the northwest of the US.
Ride hard, but ride smart this weekend! The season is still long.
Stay stoked, Morris