Temporary cooling, but just a few centimeters of snow


By Henri on 20 October 2021 · 0

No closed snow cover yet on the Zugspitzplatt (foto-webcam.eu)
No closed snow cover yet on the Zugspitzplatt (foto-webcam.eu)

After a wonderful dry autumn period, things are going to change in the next few days. First, the Northern Alps will have to deal with a powerful föhn storm today, but during the night a cold front will approach from the west. At the start of the week, a small dump still seemed possible, but by now it has become clear that the snow has largely disappeared from the weather charts.

First Südföhn, then Nordföhn (meteocentrale.ch)
First Südföhn, then Nordföhn (meteocentrale.ch)

Südföhn

As the low-pressure area approaches, the Alps will be situated in a south-westerly flow. The pressure gradient between the Northern and Southern Alps will continue to increase in the course of today. With low pressure to the north and high pressure to the south, the Northern Alps will have to deal with Südföhn. You can read all about föhn in the background article "What is föhn?".

Two successive cold fronts (wetter3.de, DWD)
Two successive cold fronts (wetter3.de, DWD)

Two cold fronts in a row

With an approaching cold front, the föhn will be cleared from west to east this night. Austria will be still under the influence of föhn until tomorrow morning. The cooling from tonight was on the weather charts for a while, but things have changed considerably. We don't have to expect large amounts of snow any more. Switzerland will be in the lead because of the north-westerly flow, but not much more than 10 to 20 centimetres above 2500 metres will fall. The snow line will slowly but surely drop to around 2000 - 2200 metres tomorrow morning. A stormy wind should be reckoned with at the passage of the cold front.

Not much snow is expected
Not much snow is expected

The second cold front only seems to affect the northern areas of the Northern Alps, which means that it will not bring more than a few centimetres. However, some colder air will enter the Alps, allowing the snowline to drop to around 1,500 metres. High pressure over the Bay of Biscay will soon put a spanner in the works by moving a little further east, which will dampen the snowfall in the Alps. Unfortunately, the amounts are nowhere near the calculated snowfall of the earlier runs of the weather models. Due to the influence of high pressure, it will slowly but surely clear up again on Friday. The Italian Alps will have to deal with a Nordföhnsituation on Friday, which will cause temperatures to rise to 20 degrees locally.

Increasing high pressure influence (wetter3.de, DWD)
Increasing high pressure influence (wetter3.de, DWD)

Calmer waters

The increasing high-pressure influence ensures that the Northern Alps will be in calmer waters in the following days. The weekend seems to be quiet like the past two weekends, but a bit colder. For now, it looks like the high pressure is too close to expect significant snowfall. We will have to be patient for a while for the snow to come.


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