The Alps are in the last stage of a very warm phase with especially on the northern side of the Alps way too high temperatures for this time of the year. But it’s not over yet! The hottest day of this warm period is still to come. With a developing Südstau and Südföhn situation on Saturday, the Southern Alps will see a decent amount of snow higher up, while at the same time the valleys on the Northern Alps can reach temperatures of 15 degrees and even higher.
A strong southwesterly flow will slowly build a föhn situation today. Accompanied with this southwesterly flow the Southern French Alps might get some very light precipitation during the day, but it won’t be more than a snow flurry above 2300 meters. In the rest of the Alps it will stay dry, but not completely cloud free. The warm front just north of the Alps might still have an effect of the cloudiness today and tomorrow. The Northwestern Alps will have to deal with a more overcast situation thanks to the moist southwesterly flow, while the eastern side of the Northern Alps will stay sunny throughout the day with only some high clouds.
Higher up, the winds will be fairly strong. During the day the pressure gradient between the Southern and Northern Alps will increase, which will cause a Südföhn situation in the Northern Alps. In the typical föhn valleys on the northern side of the Alps the föhn will already break through today. Temperatures up to 15 degrees are possible. Even later in the evening and during the night some places might keep these high temperatures due to the persistent föhn winds. Tomorrow will be still dominated by the föhn. Due to the increasing strength during the afternoon, temperatures can reach up to 18 degrees on the northern side of the Alps, which are without doubt impressive values for early February. Those who are at the moment in the Alps should take the increasing risk of wet avalanches as a consequence of this strong warming into consideration.
Due to the southerly flow on Saturday, a Südstau will develop during the course of the day. Quite some moist air will cause at first snow for the southern French Alps, Piedmont and Ticino. During the evening, this precipitation will further intensify and move towards the Southeastern Alps.
Altogether, we can expect quite some snow for the Southern Alps until Monday, with up to half a meter of snow for regions like Ticino and the Julian Alps. In the other regions in the Southern Alps, 20 to 30 centimeters are possible. Initial snow levels will be around 1800 meters, but especially from Sunday afternoon on the snow levels will drop to roughly 1000 to 1300 meters. The Southern Alps won’t be the only region with some fresh snow. The colder air on the western edge of the low pressure above France will eventually reach the Western Alps during the early morning on Sunday. The snow level will fall rapidly and end up between 700 and 1000 meters on the northern side. Especially the Northwestern Alps can get up to 20 centimeters of fresh snow until Sunday midnight. Further to the east, the Südföhn will dominate until noon on Sunday, but also here it will start to snow during the afternoon. I don’t expect much more than 5 to 10 centimeters here.
So to summarize, today and tomorrow will be dry for the most parts of the Alps. Especially the northern side of the Alps will feel the first signs of spring with temperatures above 15 degrees possible. On the southern side of the Alps a südstau situation will develop tomorrow with 20 to 30 centimeters possible on a large scale and up to half a meter or even a bit more for Ticino and the Julian Alps. Finally, also the Western and Northern Alps will get rid of the high temperatures and get some snow from Sunday on. On Monday, the Eastern Alps will still be dealing with some light snowfall and overcast conditions under the influence of the low pressure system. From the west it will clear up and especially the southern Alps and the inneralpine regions will see quite some sunshine throughout the day. By the middle of the week it looks like the Western and Southern Alps might get some more snow with an approaching low pressure system from the west.
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