First some snowfall, then warmer


By Arjen on 19 November 2020 · 0

From the northwest, clouds with precipitation are moving over the Alps. The approaching cold front with clouds and precipitation is also visible here in Garmisch
From the northwest, clouds with precipitation are moving over the Alps. The approaching cold front with clouds and precipitation is also visible here in Garmisch

Today and tomorrow are all about light snowfall on the north side of the Alps. Finally, the persistent high-pressure pattern of the past two weeks seems to have broken, but unfortunately it does not last long. The northern current will not produce impressive quantities either. We will soon return to the high-pressure weather that we now know all too well. We cannot expect a switch to more changeable weather until the middle of next week.

Until tomorrow evening, about 20 centimeters of snow may fall, especially in Austria
Until tomorrow evening, about 20 centimeters of snow may fall, especially in Austria

The cold air is on a collision course
The cold air is on a collision course

Short period of snowfall

The forecasts on wePowder are powdered by our friends at Ortovox

While the sun is still shining in Austria this morning, the cold front is approaching from the northwest. Cold air enters the Alps, causing the snow line to drop rapidly. As I indicated on Monday, the precipitation amounts seem to be somewhat disappointing due to the rapidly increasing air pressure from the west. In the typical Stau areas on the north side of the main alpine ridge, about 20 centimeters of snow can fall above 1000 meters. The snow line is about 200 meters lower further to the east. This snowfall is likely to be the most profitable for the Tauern region. 20 to 30 centimeters of snow is quite possible here. The French Alps remain almost completely dry and in Italy only the northeast can get a few centimeters.

The accumulated precipitation map shows hardly any precipitation for Central Europe until the middle of next week
The accumulated precipitation map shows hardly any precipitation for Central Europe until the middle of next week

This low-precipitation period from the weekend to mid-next week is also reflected in the GFS Ensemble for puncture point Geneva
This low-precipitation period from the weekend to mid-next week is also reflected in the GFS Ensemble for puncture point Geneva

For the north faces that have retained their snow cover in recent weeks despite the warm temperatures, there is, even with the current thin snow cover, a considerable avalanche danger after the snowfall of today and tomorrow. The prolonged period without clouds has ensured that the snow cover could dissipate its heat and thus cool down considerably in the upper layers. Because this has created a large difference between the snow surface temperature and the ground temperature, a building metamorphosis has taken place in the snow cover. This metamorphosis can cause a very weak layer in the snow cover that can cause many problems with fresh snowfall (especially in combination with a lot of wind). If the high-pressure weather continues for a while, as in recent weeks, this weak layer can develop further and possibly cause problems well into winter. Below you can see a detailed snow cover analysis by Lukas Ruetz for the current situation in Tyrol.

More high pressure

Due to the emerging high pressure, we are faced with a predominantly sunny and autumn-like weekend. From the weekend (especially in the valleys) it will no longer be as warm as last week, but with a lot of solar radiation the southern slopes may slowly but surely become snow-free again. The sun, however, has less and less influence on the north faces, so that most of the snow above 2000 meters will no longer disappear that fast. We cannot expect a change to changeable weather until the middle of next week.

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