This weekend: a challenging PowderAlert #21

This weekend: a challenging PowderAlert #21

It was a good powder day in the Alps today. An average of 10-30, locally 40 cm of fresh snow came down in the northwest and north of the Alps. That’s deep enough for some nice lines. The sun was shining and that will not be different on Friday. A new storm arrives in the Alps on Saturday. This results in some snowfall on Saturday, but it will snow heavily on the southern side of the Alps especially on Sunday. After the weekend, there is still some cold snow in the forecast for the northwest before we go into a relatively mild week with snow again in the southern Alps later. In this forecast:

  • Thursday was and Friday will be a powder day
  • Weekend: new storm on the maps
  • PA #21: lots of snow, but lots of challenges
  • Where and when to go
  • Long term: dropping temperature, but southern Föhn and Stau later

Thursday was and Friday will be a powder day

Today was and Friday will be a powder day. The images above say it all. 10-30 and locally even 40 cm of fresh snow came down in the northwest of the Alps. The sun is shining, the weather is lovely and PowderAlert #20 is ON in the northwest of the Alps. The temperature is rising and that has its effect on the snow cover. There are still soe snowed in weak layers that aren’t visible. Ride a bit more defensive than you’re used to this winter.

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!

Weekend: new storm on the maps

There is a new storm on the maps. This storm called Yuliya will move towards Europe in the coming days. The result is that the current is turning southwest to south. That results in snow for the southwest and south of the Alps. And quite a lot.

PA #21: lots of snow, but lots of challenges

If you just have one look at the snow map below you would probably say: it’s ON! But… there are a few challenges and there are some uncertainties in the dynamics of the weather the next couple of days. Let’s start with the things that actually are certain:

  • Lots of snow: lots of snow will come down between Saturday and Monday. You can expect 20-50 cm of fresh snow, but locally even more.
  • Temperature: It will be quite mild with a freezing level in the atmosphere around 1700-2000 meters.
  • Snow line: The snow line will end up between 1200 and 1700 meters due to orographic cooling, with dry snow above 1600-1900 meters.

The uncertainties:

  • Timing: the time path of the storm is uncertain. According to the latest calculations the center of gravity arrives on Sunday. It’s still uncertain at what time.
  • Sweet spot: will the southern Ecrins become the sweet spot? Will it be south of the Gotthard, the north of Lombardia/the southwest of the Engadin or will it be a good choice to drive to Courmayeur/Chamonix due to incoming cold air on Sunday afternoon/evening?

The challenges:

  • Timing: for most of us, the weekend starts on Friday afternoon and ends on Monday morning. It looks like this storm will result in the best conditions on Sunday-Monday-Tuesday.
  • Flexibility: the sweet spot of the storm is not certain yet. If you are in the position to block Sunday-Monday-Tuesday, wait with booking an accommodation.
  • Ski area: lots of snowfall means less visibility. Mild temperatures result in a high snow line. You should go to a resort with larch trees up to 2200 meters before Sunday for some nice tree runs.
  • Weak layers in the snow cover. There are still some weak layers in the snow cover that aren’t visible for the naked eye. More snow and heavier snow result in more pressure: avalanche risk will rise.

The weather this weekend will look like this according to the latest calculations:

  • Saturday: some snowfall on the south side of the main alpine ridge. The most snow will come down in the French southern Alps. The snow line will be around 1500-1800 meters, but can drop to 1300 meters during heavy precipitation. Expect dry snow above 1700-1900 meters. You can expect 5-10, locally 20 cm of fresh snow. There’s a Föhn on the north side of the Alps.
  • Sunday: it is going to snow heavily. The snow line drops in the course of the morning, but the timing of the front is still very uncertain. You can expect a lot of snow south of the main alpine ridge. The wind is strong on the north side of the main alpine ridge, but snow is coming in in the northwest by the end of the afternoon / the beginning of the evening.
  • Monday: snowfall for the northwest of the Alps. The snow line will temporarily drop to 1000 meters or lower.

In short: it will be a difficult weekend to ride some powder with good visibility. It will be difficult due to the Föhn on the north side of the main alpine ridge. The challenge on the south side of the Alps will be to find powder in the trees. It is certainly not going to be as epic as last week, but as promised earlier, I am going to do my best in the coming days to help you get the most out of this weekend.

Where and when to go

Vrijdagavond/zaterdagochtend volgt er op wePowder een where to go update. Met daarin concretere tips. Voor nu verdiep je in:

An update where and when to go will follow in the next couple of days. For now:

If I tell you at the start of the weekend where the sweetspot is going to be, you’ll have plenty of time to make a choice for an ski area, book some acco and ride powder from Sunday to Tuesday.

Long term: dropping temperature, but southern Föhn and Stau later

Next week starts a little colder as colder air from the northwest pulls into the Alps, but afterwards it gets milder with a strong southwestern to southern current. It is possible that the southern Alps will get snow again and the northern Alps will have to deal with a Föhn in the middle of next week.

Stay stoked,



rich_a_potterAuthor10 March 2018 · 10:00

Hey @@meteomorris

I love this site ! so much information. Heading to Sainte Foy next Friday for the weekend with friends I wondered in your forecasts as you talk about south / north / east / west alps and the main alpine ridge etc, where does Sainte Foy sit in regard to the areas you mention.

many thanks for your great work, stay stoked !

Rich :)

kade122Author10 March 2018 · 11:24

Hi Morris -

A few friends and I were planning a trip next weekend. It looks like a storm could impact the northern Alps next Saturday on your maps. How probable do you think this storm is? Favourite places in the northern Alps are Engelberg and Klosters / Davos, so would likely head to one of those if the storm materialises. If not, we will save our cash and wait for another weekend. Any advice would be much appreciated.


meteomorrisAuthor10 March 2018 · 13:39

@@rich_a_potter Thank you. Sainte Foy is part of the North west and will probably get snow as of Monday once colder air moves in from the NW.
@@kade122 Next Saturday is still pretty far in the future, Weather is pretty dynamic at the moment. Wait until monday. Than I can give you a better advice.
kade122Author11 March 2018 · 11:39

thanks Morris. appreciate the help!

Never miss a PowderAlert!

Get updates on the latest news, PowderAlerts and more!