Snow on the radar? Do the snow dance!

By meteomorris on 12 January 2020 · 2

The weather is lovely in the Alps. The sun is shining, it is mild and the wind is almost absent. It is wonderful weather to go touring and from a peak you can see tens of kilometers away. The coming week this will change (very) slowly. But that gives the first days, especially in the northwest, higher clouds and sometimes more wind. Some snow will fall later in the week. The quantities and the exact locations are still a mystery, but the fact that there is something of turmoil in the air after weeks of drought is already a plus. In this message:

  • Too mild for the time of the year
  • Tips where to find powder
  • Meanwhile, it is ON in Canada
  • January 17-20 event: daily rates
  • Pre-warning for new snowfall

Too mild for the time of the year

The picture above says it al. Loads of sunshine, striking views, the snow cover is old and the influenced the sun and wind and last but not least it is striking that the lake in the valley of St. Moritz is not frozen yet. It is mild for the time of year and actually it is way too mild all winter so far.

Tips where to find powder

It may have been dry for a long time, but powder can still be found. Whoever seeks will find and it is not that difficult. Stick the skins under your skis or snowboard and go on an adventure. Earn your turns!

  • Due to SNOWvember and a not to bad December there is sufficient snow above the tree line
  • In the southern alps even tree runes are often still in good condition
  • The angle of the sun is low so the radiation is limited
  • Shady slopes and especially gullies and bowls are still filled with cold loose powder snow
  • There is limited avalanche danger
  • And the weather is lovely with good visibility

LIVE: deep powder in Canada

In the Alps the conditions are less than moderate, in the Pyrenees the same, in the Abruzzo snow is lacking, the same applies for in Eastern Europe, Georgia is experiencing a difficult winter and even in the promised land of Japan the bamboo leaves often stick through the snow cover. The exception is Canada. There it is ON and there is more snow on the program. Check these live images from a group of friends who are roadtripping there right now. (Note: clicking on the link can lead to instant junkie behaviour ;)).

January 17-20 event: daily rates

In my previous post I discussed the why of the mild winter so far (the very strong Polar Vortex) and the 17-20 January event, but I also warned that it the weathermodels are very eclectic at this moment. Like the daily rates on the stock exchange market. And this will continue the next few days, because nothing is as difficult as tp predict when a strong high-pressure belt will collapse. The models forsee snow for the period 17-20 January, but the exact location, intensity and exact position of the responsible storm (s) cannot be predicted with any certainty. The differences between the various runs and models is sometimes that of day and night with a lot of snow one moment and little snow in the next model the run. The same applies to the location where it will snow. One run is good for the northwest, the other run yields a return d'est. It is the (long-term) struggle of a weather model that creates uncertainty for you and me. My advice: wait quietly and certainly do not act yet.

An example of the uncertainty in the models is visible in the picture below. During the Saturday run, the European model was in favour of significant snow for January 17-20 which mostly vanished in the Sunday morning run.

Even more extreme is the American model in which there was almost no snow in the forecast during the run of Saturday but there was suddenly a significant dump on the charts on Sunday morning.

High incertainty = snow dance

A snow dance can do no harm with such levels if incertainty. Who knows, maybe the little air that we all move ensures that a significant storm can force its way into the Alps.

Pre warning in case of new snowfall

Should the snow really come, this will surely cause a lot of powder pabic. But fresh snow on an old snow layer also guarantees problems. In case of new snow, take a rapidly rising avalanche danger into account. To prepare yourself already, it might be a good idea to refresh your knowledge with our Mountain Academy.

A new update tomorrow. Depending on the forecast models, this will be in short form under this post or as a new article.

Last but not least, I want to ask you to read and where possible support Erik Bulckens' dream. Erik Bulckens is a cinematographer, documentary maker and powder fanatic. Thanks to wePowder, he has been scoring powder for years. His dream is to make a movie documentary about the people behind wePowder. For that, Erik needs your help. You can read all about it here: read here. Do you help Erik make his dream come true? Thank you very much for your help!



  • juancarlosdominguezlemoine
    juancarlosdominguezlemoine op 12 January 2020 · 19:49
    I think the Alps are giving Morris a holiday. It is high and dry. ECMWF, GFS just starting to show something. Perhaps next weekend. and then again from 26. I also notice that GFS is trending a bit colder, after the 18 Jan. Sun is nice but too much is not good either.
    *message edited by juancarlosdominguezlemoine op 12 Jan 2020 19:49
  • Manus82
    Manus82 op 13 January 2020 · 19:56
    Hi Morris,
    just a correcting comment on your above statement about the lakes in St. Moritz:
    As it is super cold at night in the valley (around -15C and also stays cold during days), the lakes are actually frozen and the smaller ones are (partially) released for people going onto.
    They just don't look like that on the pictures because it hasn't been snowing there for ages and what you see is pure ice ("Schwarzeis") with no snow cover on top.


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