Winter is still coming! Maps are looking good!

Winter is still coming! Maps are looking good!

The forecast of today is in line with the one that was published yesterday. Just as a reminder: the jet stream is getting on fire and is bringing storms to the northwest of the Alps. But it will be situated too far north at first, which means we will especially see snow in the high alpine in the coming days. The jet stream will tilt in the so-called ‘slide scenario’ from the 8th of December, with snow deep into the valleys in the northwest first and in the rest of the northern Alps later. It’s still on the maps and that means that winter is about to dictate the weather in the north(west) of the Alps from Saturday the 8th of December. Just check the forecast from yesterday and then continue reading below. In this forecast:

  • High snow line
  • The slide scenario: winter is coming
  • Will this storm be too late for a powder weekend?

High snow line

The snow on the maps for the north-west and north of the Alps is desperately needed. The possibilities are still very limited as shown by an analysis of the Tirol avalanche service. A lot of resorts would have had a big problem if it wasn’t for artificial snow. That doesn’t feel good, especially in an environmental age like this.

But luckily it snowed in the northwest of the Alps yesterday. It snowed heavily between Chambery in the west and the Arlberg region in the east. Because there was still a lot of cold air in the alpine valleys, it first and foremost snowed into the valleys, as in Grächen (thanks to Menno Boermans for sharing ).

But because of the incoming warm air, the snow line rose rapidly in many places. Nevertheless, between 30-50 cm of fresh snow has fallen above 2100 to 2300 meters between Sunday and today. The precipitation came down as snow below that elevation at first, but turned into rain in most places it was later.

Rain and melting artificial snow in Vorarlberg
Rain and melting artificial snow in Vorarlberg
Closed snow cover above 2100 meter in Belalp
Closed snow cover above 2100 meter in Belalp
Wet snow and rain in La Plagne
Wet snow and rain in La Plagne

It is the high alpine where it currently snows. The jet stream is still too far to the north and the Alps are in too warm air (do you want to know more, check out the forecast from yesterday). Even today it is still too warm. Colder air hits the north and northeast of the Alps with a snow line around 1000-1600 meters on Tuesday, but on the approach of a very sizable storm depression, the current revolves to the southwest on Thursday and Friday. This pushes subtropical air to the Alps and it becomes very mild again. The snow line climbs again towards 2000 meters or higher.

Below you can see the storm depression that is responsible for the warming at the end of this week. This storm is still above New Foundland, but will be heading for the Alps this week. First of all, it produces mild air (red arrows), but the cold air flows towards the Alps from the weekend. To the west of the storm you can see a strong northwestern current that transports cold air to the south.

The slide scenario: winter is coming

The maps indicate a the arrival of winter from December 8th for 72 hours. A strong southwestern current with mild temperatures will kick in first, but with the moving of the storm to the east, the Alps finally are situated in the cold air. It’s a classic ‘slide scenario’. A depression over Denmark and high pressure over the Atlantic provide a northwestern current. Cold air gets on the slide around Svalbard and then glides full throttle through the jet stream over the North Sea towards the Alps.

The slide scenario
The slide scenario

In such a scenario, the northwest of the Alps will get hit first. When the current flows turns to the north (due to a high pressure area coming in from the west) later, the north Alps get hammered. The snow line drops towards 700 meters in the weekend and possibly even lower with significant snow quantities later. Yes! Below the snow forecast up to and including Monday where it should be noted that the low mountain ranges and the valleys only show snow that will actually stick around from Saturday. As usual, you will find all details on our forecast page.

As wePowder Pro you get access to the 14-day snow and weather maps and the 14-day forecast per resorts (we’ve got all the resorts in the Alps covered). You never have to miss a dump anymore. When you are wePowder Pro you also have access to 1000+ inspirational freeride routes in the most beautiful freeride areas of the Alps. Sign up as wePowder Pro today. It works great for your karma as well and you’ll support the development of the wePowder platform! Thanks!

At the same time, a strong Föhn will hit the southern Alps this weekend. This results in little to no fresh snow and wind that makes it uncomfortable in the high alpine. In addition, the wind ensures the formation of fresh wind labs.

Will this storm be too late for a powder weekend?

The storm of the weekend will take care of the first real base in the northwest and north of the Alps in the lower mountain ranges. That is good news for the long term, but for the short term I have my doubts. In the current calculations the storm comes too late for a seriously good powder weekend. Friday is still mild, the snowfall and low temperatures (but also the wind) will kick in on Saturday. Because there is only a base on the glaciers in the northern Alps, that is quite sub-optimal. Wind and snow cause difficult conditions on the glaciers. You will definitely be able to ride some powder the upcoming weekend in those places where the lifts can keep running despite the wind, but epic?

Me, myself and I are now in favor of skipping this weekend and save our euros for better times. My plan is to monitor the snow falls this weekend and keep you up to date with articles and posts on wePowder, my facebook account or follow me as meteo.morris on Instagram.
The meteorological winter may have started, but you have to wait until December 8th before the winter kicks in. You can expect the first real sign of winter for the northern Alps this weekend with significant snowfall.

But who knows, maybe me, myself or I will come back on our current decision to stay home. What if the storm moves in earlier? But what ever happens, I’ll be back online tomorrow with a new update. For the rest of today I will continue working on my article on CO2 and winter sports. But even more important I will try to finish the two Powfinder prototypes for winter 19-20 that we have in mind. Since we are awarded as test winner of the national freeride test we are suddenly hot and happening and our stock is shrinking day by day.

Conclusion: this weekend may not be epic, but winter is coming. @ #TeamJetstream… keep on dancing!

Stay stoked,



meteomorrisAuthor3 December 2018 · 16:07

And the slide is still on the maps. There is chance that Sunday may be a bit milder again, but polar air is scheduled to move in on Monday…
WadamAuthor3 December 2018 · 18:12

mmp3Author3 December 2018 · 23:55

Hi Morris, thanks as ever for your great work… Like I said the other day, I’ve got flights booked to go out to Geneva on Dec. 9th - 15th…(I need to be back for a 70th Birthday party on the 15th evening!) I was gonna head over to Val/Tignes area… but if it’s going to be a constant whiteout storm… I can change my flights free (If I do it before Friday’s close of play…) I’d get a refund on car hire too…I’ve not booked accomodation for this reason…It be much apprecated if u could give me a heads up prior to this? I’m fine with it snowing… but not if it’s a whiteout!! I’d rather wait off… Last season I was over at same time and was stormbound for most of the week…I’m out to Andermatt on January 8th anyways… I just like to always go prior to busy xmas time… to refresh the ski legs…

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