Turbulent week with shifting temperatures

Turbulent week with shifting temperatures

It was a powder day in parts of the northwest of the Alps last Saturday. The quantities were locally just enough to ride some nice lines again after a long period of mild temperatures and drought. It was mild again immediately after because of a new front approaching. The sun was therefore too warm again for the time of the year. Anyway, Saturday and Sunday were pretty okay above 1700-2000 meters in the previously announced areas. It was great to finally feel some fresh snow again.

Jetstream on fire

A breakthrough has been forced into the dominance of the high pressure area with the arrival of the snow on Saturday. The jet stream has found its way back to the Alps and storm after storm will move into the Alps in the coming period. But with a jetstream on fire it is always difficult to predict the exact storm path days in advance. Some flexibility to get the most out of your powder trips is therefore desirable. Wait as long as possible to book your accommodation (check these tips again) and check my updates as often as you can.

If you have already booked your accommodation a long time ago, then you have to wait and see if the storms find their way to your ski resort of choice. I can help you to get a picture of whether the snow is coming your way, but if that is not the case: ‘don’t shoot the messenger’.

The jet stream forms the guide rail that transports storms to the Alps, but it also forms the separation between cold air in the north and warm air in the south. If the jet stream is located north of the Alps, the snow line is usually too high. If it is located south of the Alps, then the snow line is mostly deep into the valleys.

The jet stream is kinda shifting the coming week so that the Alps are sometimes in mild air and sometimes in colder air. This means a rather fluctuating freezing level, some story for the snow line, Föhn and stau and snow from different directions.

Tuesday is a (small) powder day

A cold front pulls in the western Alps on Monday. This first of all causes snow in the French Haute Savoie and western Wallis. The snow line initially fluctuates around 1600 meters, but drops towards 1000 meters in the course of the afternoon (when the cold front enters the Alps). At the same time the front moves to the east to bring some snow to the northern Alps. Expect on average 5-20 cm above 1700 meters, but on the border between Switzerland, Italy and France you can locally expect 25-35 cm. It will be a powder day there on Tuesday. But the wind is very strong on Monday and can also be strong on Tuesday, so beware of fresh storm slabs.

Anyway, Tuesday will be a powder day in:

Southern Föhn en southern Stau on Wednesday and Thursday

The current turns to the south on Wednesday. The supplied air is mild and a powerful southern Föhn will hit the northern Alps. The freezing degree level rises towards 2500 meters with a strong southern wind. At the same time, the air on the south side of the Alps and in the French southern Alps (particularly south of the Ecrins) cools down and it starts to snow there. Expect a snow line around 1100-1500 meters. Microclimates and local wind changes can make the snow line drop or rise locally. More about that tomorrow. The heavy snowfall for the south is currently calculated on Thursday.

As is often the case, the northwest and north of the Alps will also get some snow after the southern Stau. Quantities are still a bit difficult to estimate, but more about that tomorrow. It certainly has the appearance that Thursday and Friday will produce an old-fashioned PowderAlert. And also for the long term the jet stream seems to want to aim its arrows at the Alps.

In short:

  • Tuesday will be a powder day in the Haute Savoie and western Wallis
  • A lot of snow for the southern Alps from Thursday
  • Possibly some snowfall for the northern Alps

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