Persistently dry in the Alps - where does snow fall?


By Henri on 8 February 2023 · 7

High-pressure weather in the Alps (Les Menuires, roundshot.com)
High-pressure weather in the Alps (Les Menuires, roundshot.com)

High-pressure weather is currently dominating over central Europe which means there will be virtually no snow in the Alps. Therefore, today I take a look at where snow does start to fall. On Friday, I explain why there may yet be some hope for new winter weather in the long term.

Unfavourable build-up of snowpack due to old snow and wind slabs

Slowly but surely, the avalanche situation is becoming less critical, but really with the emphasis on slowly! Due to the combination of sunny high-pressure weather and recent powder stress around the ski resorts, more and more people are looking to go higher up and into steeper terrain, but defensive planning is still desperately needed! Above the tree line, weak layers in the old snow and wind slabs remains a big problem that is often also hard to spot. Among others, the SLF and avalanche services in Austria warn about this, so be careful!

Dry in the Alps

So for the Alps, the high-pressure weather will ensure dry conditions. Initially, it will be accompanied by low temperatures. Consequently, the nights will be freezing cold with temperatures below -20 degrees Celsius in the upper valleys. Tonight, another portion of very cold air flows into the southern Alps from the east, which will temporarily create southföhn conditions in the northern Alps until tomorrow morning.

From the west, a new high pressure area approaches and takes over. The easterly winds are over and with them temperatures will also rise markedly from Saturday. First of all in the Western Alps, but before it really warms up in the Eastern Alps as well, Saturday and Sunday may see some temporary snow in eastern Austria (max 5 - 10 centimetres) with a northerly flow, but in most ski areas it will remain as good as dry. After the weekend, it will be spring-like everywhere with temperatures of around 5 to 8 degrees at 1,500 metres.

Almost no fresh snow in the Alps next days
Almost no fresh snow in the Alps next days
The jet stream is pointed towards Norway (meteociel.fr)
The jet stream is pointed towards Norway (meteociel.fr)

Where does snow fall?

With the Alps being almost completely dry for the reliable forecast period, it might be nice to see where snow does fall. Based on the jet stream weather map, one region immediately jumps out, and that is the west coast of Norway. Especially tomorrow, there could be quite a storm here with over half a metre of snow higher up and wind gusts well above 100 kilometres per hour. Immediately afterwards, a second phase with snow and another strong wind field will follow around the weekend, although the snowline is likely to be considerably higher.

Lots of snow for southern Italy
Lots of snow for southern Italy

In addition, we see quite a bit of expected snow for another location: Sicily. The east coast here could see a huge amount of precipitation in the coming days due to a nearby low pressure area. This depression will remain stationary south of the island for a while, triggering a moist easterly flow that, with temperatures of around 0 to -3 degrees at 1,500 metres, could start bringing a lot of snow to Etna. The 200-350 mm of precipitation calculated for these regions will likely cause considerable trouble and inconvenience.

The active volcano features two skiing areas: Piano Provenzana - Linguaglossa (north, 1800-2300m) and Nicolosi (south, 1900-2600m). Nicolosi has already not been open since 2018 due to too little snow, but Linguaglossa is more conveniently located and was also open as usual last winter. This winter there has been too little snow so far. Wind (as almost always here) will most likely become a problem with the fairly deep low-pressure core so close by.

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Comments


  • LiBTech1978
    Advanced
    LiBTech1978 op 8 February 2023 · 14:20
    Thanks for forecast, hope next weekend brings something good…
  • ElliPow
    Beginner
    ElliPow op 8 February 2023 · 20:37
    Does anyone have experience with areas & guides in Norway?
  • wildstyle
    Advanced
    wildstyle op 9 February 2023 · 10:33
    Can we start to have the forecast map cover Scandinavia as well ? It would be useful to better understand the snowfall in the same way we have for the rest of the alps.
  • samuelledortz
    Advanced
    samuelledortz op 9 February 2023 · 11:11
    Agreed with wildstyle. That would be appreciated
  • aoal
    aoal op 9 February 2023 · 15:39
    Seems to be colder again in the end of next week, and possibility for better skiing is there.
  • LiBTech1978
    Advanced
    LiBTech1978 op 9 February 2023 · 20:07
    Seems to be colder again in the end of next week, and possibility for better skiing is there.aoal op 9 Feb 2023 15:39

    Let’s pray to the mountains) as Henry wrote: “ On Friday, I explain why there may yet be some hope for new winter weather in the long term.”
    *message edited by LiBTech1978 op 9 Feb 2023 20:23 (25% bewerkt)
  • Mettflow
    Advanced
    Mettflow op 10 February 2023 · 11:23
    so far this winter makes me sad 😞

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