PA #10: stabilizing avalanche danger and a sunny weekend

PA #10: stabilizing avalanche danger and a sunny weekend

The jet stream is leaving the Alps alone and the heavy snowfall is behind us. It’s time to look back at the storm that closed highways in the heart of Spain, that immersed the Italian Piedmont on Monday, shut down villages (like Zermatt) and brought even more snow to the French southern Alps and the rest of the southern Alps in the night to Tuesday. It really was a special storm and I definitely recommend that you read this live blog again to see how special it was. But for those who want to focus on the future, this is the outlook: the weather calms down, there is still a lot of powder to be found in the southwest and the south of the Alps, the avalanche danger slowly drops, the sun is shining the next couple of days and there’s a new storm coming in from Sunday/Monday. PA #10 is still ON and PA #11 will follow next week. In this forecast:

  • Images say it all
  • Avalanche danger slowly stabilizing
  • Calm and sunny weather during the weekend
  • Where to go?
  • Long term: new storm

Images say it all

It was a very special storm and I can write many words about this unique storm, but the images say it all.

Avalanche danger slowly stabilizing

The enormous snow masses make sure that the snow pack is stabilizing. It’s easier for a snow pack of snow of 1 to 2 meters to settle than three thin layers of less than 10 centimeters. A lot of snow leads to a temporary high or even extreme avalanche danger, but will become a more stable snow pack later this week. If you plan on driving to the Alps the next couple of days:

  • Go for resorts with tree runs
  • Avoid slopes with large open faces and bowls (above them)
  • Always ride with an avalanche beacon, shovel and probe
  • Check the local avalanche forecast and adapt your plans to it
  • Always ride with your friends

Calm and sunny weather during the weekend

High pressure will be dominating the weather in the Alps the next couple of days. It is relatively cold and the sun is shining. Storm depressions seem to find their way back to the Alps only by the end of the weekend. A lot of fresh snow, sunshine and low temperatures. PowderAlert #10 is therefore ON.

Where to go?

I’ve presented my list of recommendations for PowderAlert #10 last Friday. That list is still going strong. Do you want more tips? Have a look at the following snow map of the past three days, go to our forecast page and have a look at the destinations located there. There is a good chance that you will find some nice gems to ride some powder in the next couple of days. Good luck!

Long term: new storm

The weather will be nice this weekend, but there’s a new storm coming in after the weekend. The exact storm path currently varies from day to day. So you can expect PowderAlert #11 after the weekend and simply wait with booking your accommodation. It is low season in the Alps right now. Take it easy and I’ll tell you this weekend where you have to be for PA #11 next week.

Stay stoked,



thomaswellerAuthor11 January 2018 · 14:12

Hey Morris!
You said you like to be asked questions so here I go, (I’m an amateur weather-junkie following winter systems for the last 4 years)…

So, by August/September of each year I start to \

  1. check snowfall over Siberia\
  2. check Atlantic Ocean water temperatures\
  3. check Arctic sea ice coverage (getting less and less ever year)\
  4. check ENSO forecasts for the Pacific (El Niño/La Niña)\
  5. check ´personal instincts and memories´ from recent years past

…and for this season my BEST indicator that we were going to get a snowy year was point 5 (instinct and memory) and maybe point 4 (ENSO)

I NEVER expected that almost ALL of the Alps would get snow this year, (albeit Austria is hurting right now lower down due to warm temperatures of the last few weeks). What is clear for the northern Alps and you can see how it correlates perfectly on NOAA´s Arctic Oscillation chart ( that a negative AO equals cold temps = snow for Alps and a negative, neutral or slightly positive NAO = moisture for southern/central Europe. Moisture + cold = snow…duh!

My observation when we talk about snow in the Alps is that there is never a discussion about water temperatures in the Mediterranean or if snow coverage or not over France or Germany matter to what happens to systems BEFORE they reach the Alps…

My question…what the heck determines the NAO or the AO? I believe a negative AO is of greater importance for snow in the Alps. I guess I’m just interested in your overall thought, so I´ll stop rambling now!
Happy skiing, can´t wait to be back in the Arlberg come February!

meteomorrisAuthor11 January 2018 · 15:07

@@thomasweller Nice! The AO and NAO basically reflect the position of the jetstream. So your question is ‘what determines the position of the jetstream?’ In short: differences in temperature between the North Pole and the Equator. The long answer is very complex and daily studied by dozens of scientists. And to be honest… they still don’t have a clue… detailed jetstream forecasts for seasonal forecasting are still pretty unreliable.
JeffrydejongAuthor11 January 2018 · 16:43


When can we expect snow in center of Switzerland. Skiing has been perfect until the 3th of January but with the start of Burglind it has become hot and windy.

De Visboer
thomaswellerAuthor11 January 2018 · 21:18

Yeah…I mean…there really wasn’t anything that REALLY stood out in the fall (compared to prior years) that the Polar Vortex was going to be so pronounced in November expect maaaybeeee La Niña and the quasi biennial oscillation being in an easterly phase but other than that…what a happy surprise. Just so many variables to contend with and still undiscovered factors to throw into the mix.

In any case, I totally love your explanations of the different weather phenomenons you give weather it´s orographic cooling, retour d´est, föhn or whatever! I think there are hidden meteorologists in all of us storm worshippers! Totally cool you guys are the ONLY ones on the entire globe offering this service to folks like us. Thanks!

meteomorrisAuthor12 January 2018 · 13:56

@@Jeffrydejong as of next week
@@thomasweller thank you!
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