Finally it’s going to happen! We’re on the eve of a very snowy period for the Northern and Western Alps. Especially the Northwestern Alps between the Mont Blanc and the Arlberg can expect up to 1 meter of fresh snow until the beginning of next week. In this weather forecast we will give you all the details of the upcoming snowfall.
After a föhn event yesterday with temperatures well above 15 degrees on the northern side of the Alps, much colder air entered the Alps with a cold front. This front gave together with strong wind gusts quite some snow. About 10 to 20 centimeters in the Northwestern Alps and 10 centimeters to the east of Arlberg. Although the cold front has passed quickly, behind the front there are still some snow showers present which can occur throughout the day. It will be a changeable day today with a mixture of these snow showers with a snow line of around 1200 meters and some sunny spells. Especially higher up in the mountains the strong westerly wind is noticeable.
In Slovenia the precipitation will intensify during the evening. So especially the Julian Alps will get quite some snow with a snow line of about 1400 meters. The area with the strongest precipitation lies just to the south of the Alps, so I expect around 10 to 20 centimeters of fresh snow for the Julian Alps.
Before a new cold front is approaching the Northwestern Alps tomorrow, we first get some Südföhn again for the Northern Alps. This one won’t be as strong as the föhn event of yesterday, but I expect that the temperatures will again increase up to locally 15 degrees in the Northern föhn valleys.
The cold front will arrive in Switzerland in the late afternoon. For the Northwestern Alps it will be the start of an almost continuous snowfall event of at least 72 hours long and maybe even longer! Initial snow lines can be a bit high due to the föhn leftovers, but with the incoming cold air from the northwest the snow line will rapidly drop to around 1000 meters. During the night even colder air is entering the Alpine area, which causes the snow line end up around 500 to 800 meters on Sunday morning.
After a short relaxation of the snowfall with even some chances for the sun to come out during the morning and early afternoon, again the Northwestern Alps, so everything between the French Northern Alps and the Arlberg, will be hit by large amounts of snow. Until Sunday evening resorts like Engelberg will get hammered with up to 50 centimeters of snow or locally even a bit more. Areas further to the east of Arlberg will receive with approximately 10 to 20 centimeters of fresh snow until Sunday afternoon way less, but there is more to come for these regions from Sunday evening on!
Large parts of the Southern Alps are on the lee side of this snowfall and won’t get more than a couple of centimeters, especially on Sunday. The areas close to the alpine main ridge as well as the eastern part of the Southern Alps will see substantially more. For Slovenia I expect 10 to 20 centimeters with a snow line of 800 meters.
Slowly but steadily the wind is turning to the north after Sunday. A dream setting with a high pressure system above the Gulf of Biscay and a low above Scandinavia is created, causing a moist and cold flow from the North Sea that smashes on the Northern Alps. Serious amounts of snow can fall until mid next week. On top of that, the incoming polar air will further lower the snow line, so even the lowest valleys on the northern side of the Alps will get snow.
On a large scale this polar flow will result in about 30 to 50 centimeters of snow for the Northern Alps from Monday morning until Wednesday morning, but in the Northern Stau regions there is locally up to 80 centimeters possible. Places like the Arlberg or Engelberg which can already look forward to the expected 50 centimeters on Sunday will end up with a total accumulation of well above 100 centimeters in the next 6 days.
If we have a look at the long term in this ensemble of the GFS model for Innsbruck, we can see that at least until the end of next week the Alps will stay rather cool with temperatures of around -5 degrees on 1500 meters altitude. Winter is back!
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