We had to wait for a long time, but finally the Northern Alps are getting some snow after some very dry and mild weeks. A cold front has approached the Northern Alps which will give some snow throughout the day. The Southern Alps will first have to deal with a couple of hours with föhn conditions, but during the evening colder air is approaching from the east and it will start to snow a bit as well.
The Alps had to deal with increased concentrations of Saharan dust in the air during the last couple of days. It was definitely not as extreme as the event one month ago when the snowpack in the Western Alps got covered by a thick layer of sand, but it caused some headache for the weather models. It created very colourful sunrises, but also a stronger cloud cover than expected. The weather models are still having some problems with the calculation of the cloud cover in these conditions, because the Saharan dust particles can support the formation of clouds. With the passage of the cold front and the northerly flow the Saharan dust is not present anymore.
The first precipitation entered the northern Alps already around midnight. After some dry and even slightly sunny hours during the early morning we will see more continuous precipitation for the Northern Alps throughout the day. It will continue to snow until midnight for large parts of Austria. In Switzerland it will already start to clear up from the west during the evening.
Especially the northern Stau regions like the Karwendel and the Dachstein will receive a fair amount of snow. Up to 20 or even 30 centimeters is possible here. The inneralpine valleys will get less, but to be honest, after such a long dry spell even this 5 to 10 centimeters for the inneralpine region is a nice gift. The snowfall is accompanied by quite strong winds higher up in the mountains, so wind-drifted snow can locally pose an avalanche risk.
Initially, the snow line was with values of about 1200 to 1500 meters quite high, but during the day, due to the incoming colder airmasses, this snow line will drop. Especially on the northern side in the Stau areas it can snow into the valleys. The inneralpine regions will have to deal with a snow line of about 800 to even 1200 meters.
On the southern side of the Alps, like here in East-Tyrolean city Lienz, it will initially stay dry due to the North föhn. The main Alpine ridge is only about 30 kilometers away, but still almost no clouds are present at the moment. This föhn situation won’t last long, because also some parts of the Southern Alps can expect some precipitation from this afternoon and evening on. It is due to the fact that large parts of the cold northerly flow are forced to go around the Alps. The flow around the eastern part of the Alps will curl towards the west and fill the Po Valley with colder and moist air.
Especially the Piedmont and the most southerly regions of the Southern Alps are affected by this precipitation. With about 5 to maybe 10 centimeters above 1000 meters it won’t be much. Only in the northern parts of the Piedmont it might snow up to 20 centimeters locally until tomorrow afternoon.
Apart from the snow in the Piedmont and some remnant clouds of the front, Saturday will be quite a sunny day for large parts of the Alps. Especially the Eastern Alps will see lots of sunshine during the weekend. Due to some moist air advection from the Mediterranean Sea, the Southern French Alps will receive some centimeters of snow during the day and evening.
On Sunday, large parts of the Southern Alps will clear up. Again, the best chances for sun are in the eastern part of the Alps. At the same time, the Western Alps have to deal with more cloudy conditions and even some snow from the west. These light snow showers won’t give more than a couple of centimeters above 1500 meters. The inneralpine regions will get significantly less and might even stay dry. Also on Monday these showers will be spread across the Northern Alps.
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