50 cm of cold fresh powder, but mild temperatures and snow for the high alpine coming up!

50 cm of cold fresh powder, but mild temperatures and snow for the high alpine coming up!

Half a meter of fresh snow, not that much wind and cold. Everbody’s always talking about Japan and Canada, but those who choose their moments in the Alps do not have to burn as much kerosene and can ride powder close to home. And these moments have often occurred this winter. Yesterday was such a day.

Engelberg (c)Elias Lundh
Engelberg ©Elias Lundh

Our friends from the SkiLodge in Engeberg have send us the picture above. It won’t get much better than this. I keep it short today, because if you’re in the right place in the Alps today, you probably ride the best powder of the week. The sun came out, the powder is cold and there are ski areas in the Alps where it is not that crowded. The sun will also shine on Wednesday, but it will start to snow on Thursday. Unfortunately it will rain in the valleys. In this forecast:

  • PA #15: where to go?
  • Please note: snowed in surface hoar will cause problems
  • Mild temperatures from Thursday
  • Long term: northern Stau

PA #15: where to go?

Around 20-40 cm, locally 60 cm of fresh snow came down since Sunday evening. It is ON like Donkey Kong. The sun is coming out, there is great powder and it is cold. This is where you have to go to make the most of PowderAlert #15 today and tomorrow:

It’s crowded in the Alps, but if you have read this article you can avoid the crowds. Most people will be busy with skiing lessons, their kids or other reasons why they can’t ride powder.

Please note: snowed in surface hoar will cause problems

I already wrote on Sunday: ‘Take into account that fresh wind-drifted snow will be dropped on top of a layer of surface hoar. Wind, fresh snow and a potential sliding layer will cause the avalanche danger to rise again. Therefore check your local avalanche forecast in the coming days and adjust your plans to it.

This snowed in surface hoar is mentioned in a number of avalanche forecasts today. Hoar is an invisible (because snowed in) danger and not even visible to experts. Keep that in mind when planning your lines. Today is the first sunny day after a period of snowfall. Please don’t be fooled by the powder panic and keep in mind that the sun will influence the snow on southern faces.

Mild temperatures from Thursday

The warm front above sends warm air to the Alps on Thursday, but it comes in slowly. The Föhn charts for the western and eastern Alps from yesterday already showed you where the warm air arrived. Check out the animation below (from our own weather model). 850 hPa is about 1400 meters altitude. It looks like this: if the Alps are blue, the air temperature is below zero degrees at 1400 meters, but if it is yellow/orange it is above zero degrees Celsius. Note: this is the temperature in the so-called free atmosphere. It might take some time before the warm air expels the heavier cold air, but once this happens it starts to rain quickly on those parts of the mountain where the temperature is above zero.

If you check out the animation below, you will see that the Alps will have to deal with warm air twice the next couple of days: on Thursday and Friday/Saturday. The center of gravity of the precipitation will be in the Alps and you’ll notice the effects of the rise in temperature.

Rainfall will hit the western Alps on Thursday and Friday/Saturday. It’s expected that the mild air first will rise to 1400 to 2000 meters on Thursday, will drop again to 1000-1400 meters in the night to Friday, and to rise again to 1400-2000 meters during the day on Friday and will drop again to 700 to 1000 meters on Saturday. The moisture may condensate a bit more (due to the air getting colder) and this might result in some extra fresh snow, but it’s not certain yet because the fronts aren’t that strong.

In short: you can expect fresh snow in the northwest of the Alps between Thursday and Sunday. Expect 20-40, locally 70 cm of fresh snow. The most snow will come down in the Ecrins, the higher parts of the Isère, the higher resorts in the Vanoise, the Mont Blanc massif, the highest peaks of western Wallis and the higher resorts of the northern Swiss alpine ridge. The higher parts of the Arlberg will also get their share. There is a big chance that PowderAlert #16 will be in effect from Saturday. An alert especially for those parts of the mountain that above 1800-2000 meters. Very different from the cold smoke blower pow alert from today.

Long term: northern Stau?

High pressure will make an attempt to influence the weather in the Alps after the weekend, by heading towards the north of the Alps. It will block the western jet stream. When high pressure will be situated northwest of the Alps, storms from the west are forced to choose a course south or east of the Alps.

There are two possible scenarios for the high-pressure area next week. In the first scenario, high pressure will be situated northwest of the Alps and a storm depression will move towards the Alps over the east with lots of snow for the northern resorts in Austria. The second scenario is that the high-pressure area will be situated in the region north of the Alps and there is instability in the Mediterranean. This results in an eastern current with chances for snow for the southern Alps and the east of the Alps. In the latest calculations, the models prefer the first scenario (northern Stau for Austria). We’ll see what will happen the next couple of days. The temperature will be low in both scenarios.

Discount on Mountain Academy

Want access to the most comprehensive online backcountry snow safety courses for skiers and snowboarders? Use code “TIMETOPLAY1718”, valid until the beginning of March, to get access for only 9€ (Reg: 29€). Go to Mountain Academy and start now!

wePowder Pro members: thanks for your support!!

We have introduced wePowder Pro this winter. You’ll get extra weather and terrain data for € 25,08 per year (you can not even buy a day pass for that amount in many places). This allows us to further expand our service and we have found a way to express your support to us. Many of the readers of wePowder have done that already and the whole wePowder team and myself are grateful for that. This allows us to keep on developing to make our service even better. Thank you very much!

Are you not a wePowder Pro yet, but do you regularly read the weather forecast or use the services on wePowder? With an upgrade to wePowder Pro you support us, you can express your gratitude and you’ll ride more powder. And it works great for your karma as well. Thanks! Oh, and you’ll get a free 7-day trial when you register yourself on wePowder. No strings attached!

Stay stoked. Morris



tarekbayazidAuthor13 February 2018 · 18:48

Morris, really big thank you for posting 3 days in a row. Was one of those weeks where I have a crew of guys itching to ski this weekend, however plane tickets are crazy expensive because of school holidays, and getting the daily updates from you made it clear we should play golf this weekend instead :-)

Was going to hit Engelberg, but the base there at 1000 meters looks like it will pour rain. Again, really appreciate that you posted 3 straight days to explain what’s going on. Made the decision easier.

Just one question, can you please make it snow in Engelberg NEXT weekend???

meteomorrisAuthor13 February 2018 · 19:17

Just one question, can you please make it snow in Engelberg NEXT weekend???

tarekbayazid op 13 Feb 2018 18:48

Will try… ;)

AnonymousAuthor14 February 2018 · 08:08

Hi Morris. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and helping us getting the time of our lives lately! We are ending our yearly trip to the alps on Saturday/Sunday and want to squeeze out the most of the last part. At the moment we are in the Jungfrau region. The forecast has had us worrying about zero vision up high and rain down low for the next days. Considering we have a car and still some juice in our legs, is there some places in specific you would have tried out before leaving Sunday morning?
Maggie & Joe

meteomorrisAuthor15 February 2018 · 13:48

@@joakimsærheim Let’s wait and see wait the snow level will do today. Will give you some extra advice this evening.

Never miss a PowderAlert!

Get updates on the latest news, PowderAlerts and more!