The first solid northern Stau of this season coming in!


By Henri on 11 January 2021 · 5

The snow map colors red for the Northern Alps
The snow map colors red for the Northern Alps

We are on the eve of a big northern Stau with possibly even more than a meter of snow for Switzerland. Normally it would definitely be a PowderAlert, but unfortunately due to all the closed resorts and the travel restrictions there will be no alerts this season. Nevertheless, with these weather forecasts we will keep you informed of all the snowfall in the Alps.

Freezing cold last night in Lienz
Freezing cold last night in Lienz

Ice cold night

The crystal clear sky without any clouds allowed it to cool down considerably again last night, making it the coldest night of this winter in many places. In Austria, Osttirol was the coldest region with -24.2 degrees in the Defereggental and -23.5 degrees in Lienz. In Lienz it wasn't that cold since 1987! In Switzerland, the Samedan station measured -27.7 degrees this morning. On the Glattalp it became -34.7 degrees Celsius this morning at 6:55 am.

Increasing clouds

Only today the Alps will have bluebird skies, because tonight clouds slowly but surely come in from the northwest. A first sign of the snowfall that will come for the Northern Alps. In many places it will remain clear tonight, so it can become icy cold one more time, especially in the valleys. Higher up it also remains cold, but because some warmer air is already flowing in, it does not get as cold as in recent days.

The still sun-drenched Glacier 3000 can receive a meter of snow in the coming days
The still sun-drenched Glacier 3000 can receive a meter of snow in the coming days

From Wednesday the snow line in the western Alps may rise slightly due to the advection of warm air from the northwest
From Wednesday the snow line in the western Alps may rise slightly due to the advection of warm air from the northwest

Strong northern Stau

The forecasts on wePowder are powdered by our friends at Ortovox

It has been on the maps for a while, but it is now certain that we will have to deal with the first decent northern Stau of the season from tomorrow to Friday. It seems that the center of the snowfall will be in Switzerland, because the current for eastern Austria is a little too westerly for a truly long-lasting Nordstau.

We have to deal with two waves of snow. In the course of tomorrow morning, the first snowfall from the northwest reaches the Alps. In the afternoon, the entire north side of the Alps is covered in snow. It can snow hard until Wednesday afternoon, with 30 to 40 centimeters of fresh snow, especially in Switzerland. The French Northern Alps and Vorarlberg also get 20 to possibly 30 centimeters from this first wave. Everything east of the Arlberg will get with 10 to 20 centimeters of snow until Wednesday afternoon.

For the eastern Northern Alps, the snow line is not an issue, because it remains cold enough for snow to reach the valleys during the snowfall. Further west, the snow line can rise to 1200 meters from Wednesday due to the supply of warmer air from the west.

Snow map until Wednesday afternoon
Snow map until Wednesday afternoon

Uncertain snow quantities

The Northern Alps can temporarily catch their breath on Wednesday afternoon. The snow intensity is decreasing and the sun can temporarily come out in many places. These clearings will only be short-lived, because new precipitation will follow from the west in the late afternoon.

This precipitation from Wednesday afternoon still brings uncertainty. While according to the GFS Eastern Switzerland and Vorarlberg seem to receive the jackpot with another 70 to 100 cm of snow until the night from Thursday to Friday, the European model is a bit more cautious and calculates the center of gravity a little further west. According to this model, up to 60 centimeters of snow could fall from the Mont Blanc massif to the Glarus Alps. Vorarlberg would receive significantly less snow with a maximum of 30 to 40 centimeters of snow on top of the first snow wave. The rest of Austria will get another 10 to 20 centimeters of snow, just like until Wednesday afternoon, according to the ECMWF. On Friday there may still be some snow, especially in the Western Alps, but because the details are not yet certain, I will come back to this on Wednesday.

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Comments


  • magicpeach
    Advanced
    magicpeach op 11 January 2021 · 21:55
    Any good places for tree skiing in Switzerland when the visibility is poor?

    I love the west side of Lenzerheide. Looking for new ideas
    you are progressing on something, that's all about
  • brb
    brb op 12 January 2021 · 08:39
    Any good places for tree skiing in Switzerland when the visibility is poor?

    From ZH the place to go is Braunwald (just check whether they have a decent base). Also, you can check Elm. A bit further you have Tschiertschen.
  • Christopher Lindeman
    Advanced
    Christopher Lindeman op 12 January 2021 · 11:00
    How would the avalanche forcast look like in Switzerland after the first wave?
  • scotty9
    Expert
    scotty9 op 12 January 2021 · 13:37
    How would the avalanche forcast look like in Switzerland after the first wave?Christopher Lindeman op 12 Jan 2021 11:00

    Best resource: https://www.slf.ch/en/index.html

    General rule: Big snowfalls will increase the risk (sometimes significantly) as the snow falls and is fresh. After it has settled under its own weight, the risk will reduce. Note this is a simplification and ignores layering, temp differences etc and a major impact: Wind.

    You can use the SLF's weather stations to monitor live wind https://www.slf.ch/en/avalanche-bulletin-and-snow-situation/measured-v... You can see there are already storm force sustained winds in many places so large wind slabs will be a significant risk following this snow fall. I haven't read the latest SLF update but I'd imagine they are cautioning already on the formation of large wind slabs.
  • scotty9
    Expert
    scotty9 op 12 January 2021 · 13:37
    Deleted. Duplicate comment.
    *message edited by scotty9 op 12 Jan 2021 13:40 (96% bewerkt)

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