Western circulation provides a lot of rain and snow

By Henri on 27 January 2021 · 2

Lots of fresh snow in Lofer (skialm-lofer.com, PanoCloud)
Lots of fresh snow in Lofer (skialm-lofer.com, PanoCloud)

After a lot of snow has fallen to the east of Tyrol in the night from Monday to Tuesday (locally up to 40 centimeters into the valleys) we say goodbye to these winter conditions from today and we enter a strong westerly current. Due to the supply of very soft air, we are confronted with a water ballet in the lower valleys and deep conditions in the high alpine in the western Northern Alps. More than a meter of snow can fall in the high alpine, but with a stormy wind the avalanche situation becomes very tricky.

Snow from the (north)west

The forecasts on wePowder are powdered by our friends at Ortovox

Due to a small low-pressure area above the North Sea, it will start snowing again today from the northwest into most of the valleys. In the course of the afternoon warmer and humid air will come in from the west, causing the snowfall to intensify and the snow line to rise steadily. Tonight the snow line in the extreme Western Alps is already between 1200 and 1600 meters, while in Austria it can still snow above 1000 meters until tomorrow morning. The inner alpine valleys are favored in this situation and can benefit from a low snow line for longer. Until tonight, about 20 to 30 centimeters of snow can fall from the French Northern Alps to Vorarlberg.

Snowfall map for today
Snowfall map for today

Rising snow line

Tomorrow during the day the precipitation will continue and warmer air will be drawn in from the west. The wind is also getting stronger at the same time. The snow line rises to about 2000 meters in the afternoon and evening in the west. Further east in Graubünden and the west of Austria it fluctuates around 1500 meters, but here too, the strong wind can make the snow line temporarily hit 2000 meters. You can clearly see the high snow line on our snow map. Wide colorless valleys (only rain) and higher up bright colors (lots of snow) show the big differences.

Again, about 20 to 30 centimeters of snow can fall on a large scale, even up to 50 centimeters of snow in the Western Alps in the high alpine is possible. This means, however, that lower-lying parts will receive lots of rain. The avalanche danger will rise by this rain and higher temperatures, as Rogier also wrote.

Snowfall map tomorrow
Snowfall map tomorrow
Also on Friday the western current continues (wetter3.de, DWD)
Also on Friday the western current continues (wetter3.de, DWD)

Slight cooling

In the course of Friday there will be some cooling again when a cold front passes, but before this cooling reaches the Western Alps, the precipitation peak is largely over again. This means that most of the precipitation that falls in the night from Thursday to Friday and Friday morning still has to deal with a snow line between 1500 and 1800 meters. Further to the east, the snow line can be a lot lower on Friday. Here, the snow line drops during the day from 1600-1800 meters to 1200 meters. Also on Friday, you can expect 30 to maybe 50 centimeters of snow in the high alpine, which means that the high-altitude areas in the northwestern Alps can receive up to a meter of snow in the next 3 days.

Snowfall map Friday
Snowfall map Friday
Total amounts of snow until Saturday afternoon
Total amounts of snow until Saturday afternoon

More precipitation during the weekend

How are things going during the weekend? After the uncertainty in the models in recent days, a few things have become more clear. A low-pressure area over the Atlantic Ocean approaches the British Isles, but then turns towards France on Saturday and follows a south-easterly path towards the Adriatic Sea. As a result, it may temporarily become warmer on Saturday morning and the Western Alps will receive another portion of moist air. Initially it can still rain well above 1500 meters, but during the day the snow line in the Western Alps drops to around 1200 meters. The snowfall will spread over the rest of the Northern Alps in the course of Saturday. Especially in Austria, it can still snow on Sunday with a (slightly) dropping snow line up to around 1000 meters. It seems that the northwestern Alps can expect another 20 to 30 inches of snow over the weekend. Everything east of Arlberg will have to deal with 10 to 15 centimeters. The Southern Alps will hardly get any of this snowfall. Only the extreme southern areas can receive some precipitation on Saturday evening.

Even after the weekend it doesn't seem to be over with the mild and precipitation-rich weather. Again, a vigorous western circulation can cause lots of snow in the high alpine and rain in the lower parts.

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  • Mountainlodge
    Mountainlodge op 27 January 2021 · 21:00
    Sedrun 60 cm of pow in town today... wild!!! Hopefully it won’t rain too much!
  • simonbrizard
    simonbrizard op 28 January 2021 · 15:20
    Sedrun 60 cm of pow in town today... wild!!! Hopefully it won’t rain too much!Mountainlodge op 27 Jan 2021 21:00

    How's Sedrun looking today? I saw rain reached Disentis earlier this afternoon?


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