Too much snow! State of emergency in southern Alps, milder next week

Too much snow! State of emergency in southern Alps, milder next week

The fifth storm is hitting the southern side of the Alps today. A lot (and we mean a lot) of snow and rain has come down the last two weeks and the problems are getting bigger and bigger. The normal media in most countries are dominated by the floods in Venice, but at the same time it is snowing heavily on the southern side of the Alps. This provides a lot of local pleasure, especially in the western part of the Southern Alps as can be seen below.

But the intense precipitation now also causes a very tense situation in the eastern part of the Southern Alps. The heavy snow of the past few days is getting too heavy, after which gravity does its work and this kind of large wet slides come down.

It’s snowing heavily south of the line Brenner Pass / Hohe Tauern, with the still cold air combined with orographic cooling causing a huge amount of snow. Even deeper into the valleys. The avalanche risk in the region is now at four, or HIGH. Check the current local avalanche forecast HERE.

The result is that public life has come to a halt in many places. Households are without electricity, roads are closed and the train traffic is shut down.

Avalanche risk 4
Avalanche risk 4

Orographic cooling versus milder air

There is already 160 cm of settled snow above Sillian at an altitude of only 2100 meters. Which means that about two to three meters of snow has fallen since the start of November. Especially heavy snow settles more and a settled snow cover is always less thick than the snow that actually fell. Tip: also read this article: the discussion about centimeters.

It is currently getting warmer in the Eastern Alps. With a southern current, milder air is pushed to the eastern Alps and we are already seeing local temperatures rising. Rising temperatures mean wet heavy snow or even rain which makes the snow cover even heavier and increases the chance of large wet snow avalanches. The coming hours will therefore become critical.

Temperature above zero above 1500 meters
Temperature above zero above 1500 meters

Above the expected temperature in the free atmosphere. The problem with the Alps is that there is no such thing as the free atmosphere. Cold air can linger in narrow valleys and, in addition, very intense precipitation in the mountains can cause orographic cooling. The result is that it’s above zero in one valley, while it remains cool just one valley away. Where avalanches will come down and how big they will be is impossible to say.

Monday and Tuesday temporarily cooler

Fortunately Monday and Tuesday will get temporarily cooler and let’s hope the sun will come out, although the latter is doubtful (see later in this article). Cold temperatures and clear nights ensure that the moisture can escape from the snow cover and the snow cover can adhere better as a whole. Let’s hope that there will be no real catastrophes in the coming hours and that it will be cool enough on Monday / Tuesday.

Snow cover unprecedentedly thick for the time of the year

30-120 cm of fresh snow came down in the southern part of the Eastern Alps in the past 24 hours,. It is expected that it will continue to snow until tonight (Sunday), whereby the intensity will decrease during the afternoon / evening.

According to the ZAMG calculation model, there is already one and a half to two meters of snow with peaks above three meters in large parts of the high alpine of the southern Alps. Those are bizarre quantities.

Certainly in the main alpine ridge there is an unprecedented amount of snow for mid-November and that snow will not go away. It is true that Föhn winds, settling snow, storms and temperature changes will ravage the snow cover, but the base for the coming winter is there.

Snow again Monday and Tuesday

A new storm will hit the southern Alps on Monday. It is getting colder with snow for the southern side of the Alps. So it gets cooler but with the new snow it is expected that the snow cover will endure even more tension. Fortunately the sun will come out on Monday, but more snow will follow on Tuesday.

Milder from Wednesday

It will be quiet in the atmosphere after Wednesday. Although the current is still south, storms remain at a distance for a while. It will then clearly become milder and that will certainly be noticeable in the northern Alps. A northern Föhn will rise and a lot of the snow below 2000-2400 meters will melt away in the coming week. It is also milder on the south side but less due to orographic cooling than on the north side.

New: wePowder Guide The Alps

It is as if King Winter has been waiting for us. For the last two years, Arjen and I, along with a team of designers, editors and not to mention all our friends in the Alps, have worked endlessly on the ultimate freeride guide book: ** wePowder Guide the Alps**. The last two months in particular were intense, working on that last bits. The presses will be running soon and the aim is to ensure that if you order now you’ll receive your guide before Christmas. You can read all about our new book here. The guide is available in a limited edition and only the guides from the pre-order (€ 40,00 instead of € 45,00) are exclusively numbered. Order it now and make sure that you don’t miss out!

Stay stoked,



JgirguliproAuthor18 November 2019 · 11:35

Morris, Is the wepowder app still up and running? I don’t seem to get any updates written by you on that platform.

meteomorrisAuthor18 November 2019 · 12:12

@@Jgirguli. No, Salomon decided tot discontinue the app. All the weather data is still available on and we are thinking about a newsletter system in a way that you get a notice from us that there is an update available. Do you have other suggestions we can work on?
andreashartmannAuthor18 November 2019 · 13:13

Hi Morris, build your own app ;)
I mean a software developer for a interenship would be easy found. Try at university’s in the alps, with people who like sport. (eg. Innsbruck,…)

bandurAuthor18 November 2019 · 19:11

Or you could just take over maintenance of the powderquest App from Salomon. It was great.

baptistejayAuthor18 November 2019 · 22:45

Morris, in the app the Reports pictures were sometimes really good and usefull !

SeppuccuAuthor19 November 2019 · 08:31

Funny how double or triple the amount of snow rarely seems to be a problem in Japan. ;)

I'm a powder puppy.
meteomorrisAuthor19 November 2019 · 11:44

Thanks for all your tips. We will put them on our list! In case you have more ideas, share them with us.
JgirguliproAuthor19 November 2019 · 17:38

The app was a great way to get updates on a mobile device. Too bad Salomon pulled the plug. A news alert would be great!! thanks for all the work you do to make our winters even better.

alice8217Author19 November 2019 · 19:38

I love wePowder, thanks for all the work you do! I’m a web developer & data scientist, would love to work with you guys ;)

00fra00Author20 November 2019 · 17:01
Francesco Cesana
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