After a record-breaking snowfall it’s deeper than deep for the Southern Alps at the moment. More snow is following today, but it won’t be the Southern Alps that will profit from the upcoming snowfall. This time it will be the western part of the Alps! We’re not talking about the same amounts as the Southern Alps got last week (like the several meters that fell in Kanin in the Julian Alps on this picture), but we can expect up to half a meter of snow for the Northern French Alps and West-Switzerland.
In this forecast:
The Dolomites, Julian Alps, Carinthia and East-Tyrol received a massive amount of snowfall. Let’s take the East-Tyrolean city Lienz as an example to show how incredible this precipitation event was. A stunning amount of 389 mm of precipitation fell already this December at the measurement station of Lienz, which smashed the old record for December. This amount of precipitation that fell within one week is three times as much as the mean precipitation for a whole winter for East-Tyrol! I have to stress out that not everything fell as snow in the lower regions because of the temporary higher snow line, but you can imagine how much snow this event dropped in the higher regions.
But now it’s time for the Western Alps! Good news for the lucky ones that are able to enjoy the snow in the Swiss resorts at the moment, because a westerly flow will bring an occlusion front with some nice precipitation towards the Western Alps today.
The hotspot of the snowfall will be around the Mont Blanc with up to 50 centimeters of snow or even a bit more, but from the Écrins all the way to the Glarner Alps in Switzerland we can expect between 20 and 40 centimeters of fresh snow with a snow line starting between 1200 and 1500 meters, but slowly dropping to 800-1000 meters on Saturday. In Vorarlberg the snowfall won’t result in more than 20 centimeters and even further east into Austria we won’t get more than 5 to 10 centimeters.
Just some hours after the snowfall, under influence of a strong low pressure system to the east of Great Britain and the corresponding southwesterly flow, the western and northern part of the Alps will experience a rapid warming on Monday. Especially higher up the temperatures can increase substantially with this southwesterly flow, with temperatures up to 8 or even 10 degrees at 1500 meters altitude. The freezing level will be temporary well above 2500 meters.
From Tuesday on the weather models are still not too sure on the details, but we know that the Western Alps could receive some precipitation. The precipitation goes hand in hand with the inflow of some cooler air, which eventually will result in a slowly decreasing snow line to around 1500 to 1800 meters. The exact position and thus the amount of precipitation is still difficult to forecast. So far it seems like the strongest precipitation will fall to the west of the French Alps, so I don’t expect much more than 10 to 15 centimeters above 2000 meters, but if this all shifts just a bit to the east, it can be up to 20 or 30 centimeters.
If we have a look at the ensemble of the American forecast model GFS for the Western Alps we see lots of snow possibilities in the following days. On top of that, the temperatures are steadily decreasing, so the snow line won’t be as high as on Tuesday anymore. All in all it looks very promising for the Western Alps as well. Let’s hope we are able to enjoy this base very soon!
During the last days some possibilities for another Südstau by the end of next week popped up on the charts, but the weather models are far from certain about this development, so we just have to be patient (and wait for the next weather forecast on Monday).
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