The Snowmageddon for the northern Alps continues. What is a blessing for one person is a disease for another. They were begging for some extra snow in the east of Austria in the weeks before Christmas, but now… you know what’s going on! A part of the locals (and probably the tourists) are fed up with the white stuff. Nearly 2000 people are locked in their villages because the roads are closed and avalanches are claiming victims. On the other hand, I see the most bizarre images pass by. It is now so deep in many places in Austria that cliffs that are normally hard to jump have now become great pillows. It’s pretty crazy what’s happening in Austria now.
Crazy amounts of snow in Austria
Those who look closely at the map above (source) will see the first black spots on the map. Which means that the snow cover on the higher parts of the mountain is already 4 meters or thicker. Note: the snow cover. That is unprecedented. It is therefore already sure that Austria will have a long season. Because before we have seen such amounts of snow melt we are already very far in the spring. Especially high on the mountain.
HIGH avalanche danger
There is still HIGH avalanche danger in the most parts of Austria (source) and that will probably stay the same with the snow that’s still in the forecast. And that is also a unique situation. Rarely has there been this kind of avalanche danger for such a large part of the Alps. The advantage of such a large amount of snow is that it eventually becomes easier to settle. Once the snow mass has been consolidated, it could provide a very stable base layer for the rest of the season. The ‘old snow problem’ that the Austrians had to deal with during the winters of 14-15, 15-16 and 16-17 won’t be happening in the red areas this year.
But that’s not something we have to deal with right now. The avalanche situation is very critical in large parts of Austria. Avalanches already claimed the lifes of two persons on Sunday. Ski tours are not recommended due to current conditions and those who ride above the tree line are in very dangerous terrain at the moment. Simply don’t do it. wePowder user akimäkitaipale is using the right words: Still, even it is quite unique now - safety first. Winter has just begun, no point to end life because of that.
Common sense and the right knowledge can also ensure the most beautiful and unforgettable powder days in this period. The avalanche danger is high, some roads closed and a number of villages are not reachable by road. Nevertheless, you can ride powder. But avoid the ski areas with mainly terrain above the tree line. Again: don’t ride above the tree line, it’s simply too dangerous! Ride powder between the trees and avoid large open and steep sections. Even steep sections above a forest are dangerous because avalanches can reach far into the trees. Do not choose the deepest destinations and do not forget to have fun. But keep thinking! Knowledge is the key, but powder panic is not.
It’s getting deeper in Switzerland too
It’s deep in Austria, but it is also becoming deeper in Switzerland. In particular, the east and central part of Switzerland have seen the snow cover grow in recent days and more snow will be added in the coming days. A snow cover of 1 to 2 meters thick starts to become the norm and there will be a lot more coming down in the coming days.
PA#8 from Tuesday/Wednesday
You can expect a lot of snow again on Wednesday. Because the high pressure area is now somewhat more to the west, the snow also reaches the northwest of the Alps.
With all the new snow it will also be good in the east and central part of Switzerland so you can can avoid the areas where it’s simply too deep in the east of the Alps. What I would personally do? I’d go to the same resorts where it was already on during PA #7. It is deep, you can ride great lines between the trees and the crowds are gone. The list for PA # 8 is therefore almost identical to that of PA #7. Pick a small resort in:
PA #9 this weekend
The precipitation will slow down on Friday, but there is another alert on the maps for next weekend. More about this later this week.
And the rest of the Alps?
The models hint at a breakthrough from the middle of January. The first signs of this can be seen on our 14 day snow maps. Everything is still uncertain, but if there is more news you can read it here.
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Have fun during your storm chase now and/or the coming days. Keep thinking! Do not let powder panic take over, read avalanche forecasts, talk to experts and ride conservatively. Oh yes … and have fun. It does not always have to be really steep.
Hi Morris, Happy new year!
Do you think we might expect some deep in northern french alps by the end of January?
stauchaser op 7 Jan 2019 18:58
Nice Image! Again in Zell am See?
We’ve been in Kitzbühel today. Kinda limited options due to major closures. Still, we had some deep powder runs in the woods with increasingly heavy snow.
It was super deep PA#7 Picture from wilder Kaiser. If it is to flat you will stuck.