PA#4: Saturday will be the day

PA#4: Saturday will be the day

The higher Alpine is loaded with snow, but at the same time rain and mild föhnwinds are attacking the snowpack below 2000 meters. There is no shortage of precipitation but it is simply too mild for the time of the year. The next 120 hours will be dynamic on our way to Christmas in which you see several seasons pass by. In this article:

  • way too mild for the time of year
  • nevertheless a lot of snow in the higher Alpine
  • southern föhn and zuidstau
  • Saturday will be the day
  • Dynamic pattern towards Xmas

Way too mild for the time of year

It is way too mild in large parts of the Alps. And not only there. In fact, in almost all of Europe and even the northern hemisphere it is too hot for the time of the year. The maps of Europe and the Northern Hemisphere below are almost completely orange. The northern hemisphere is currently on average 1 degree warmer than usual and even at the north pole it is 2.1 degrees celcius warmer.

Europe (c) Climate Reanalyzer
Northern hemisphere (c) Climate Reanalyzer

A lot of snow in the higher Alpine

Despite the mild temperatures there is a lot of snow in the higher Alpine. On the one hand that is due to the snowy SNOWvember month, on the other hand we are at the start of the winter. In the valleys it may be mild and wet, in the high mountains the precipitation just falls like snow. Near the Simplon pass there is now (much) more snow than normal and that applies to large parts of the high mountains in the Alps. But below 2000-2200 meters the snowpack is getting thinner.

Vorarlberg is known as a snow magnet (read also this article) and Damuls claims to be one of the snowiest if not the snowiest village in the world. Little can be seen of this this year. The meager 20 cm are not really record-like.

Southern föhn and zuidstau

A strong southern current will not change much in the next 48 hours. With a southwestern current, mild air is transported from the south to the Alps. Rain and föhnwinds are attacking the snowpack below 2000 meters…

Only in the southern areas where orographic cooling does temper the heat it snow at the time of writing to about 1600 meters or even lower. It snows heavily in the French Southern Alps and south of the main alpine ridge until Friday evening. This is followed by a short and not so intense northern airflow with some snow for the northwest and north of the Alps.

Saturday will be the day

On Saturday the Alps will be under the influence of a rather temporary high pressure. As a result, the precipitation decreases and the sun comes through. With the snow of the last days it will be the day this weekend. Conditions will be really good in the higher alpine of the ski areas in:

At the end of the Saturday it becomes cloudy again and from the west it starts snowing again.

Snow from the west on Sunday

On Sunday it will snow again in the west, first of all in the southwest, but as the current gradually becomes more westerly in the northwest. The snow line is falling slowly to get really low by Sunday evening. But because it still takes quite a long time, it won’t help you until Monday.

Best conditions Sunday in the form of treeruns in:

Snow for the northwest on Monday

In the night to Monday it snows heavily in the French Northern Alps and western Switzerland. Monday will be a great ride in the higher parts of the French Northern Alps. On Tuesday mild air will be moving into the western Alps, but during Christmas there will be a northern stau for the northern Alps. Finally (and rather shortlived)

Monday a new update. You now know where to go in the coming days. Saturday will be a brilliant day (with a rather sketchy avalanche danger), the Sunday treeruns in the south. Monday, the northwest is the place to be.

Enjoy your weekend

Reading tip: the wonderful story of Roel van der Laan, Popski, Michel Neyens and Robbert Schippers who went on an expedition in the Alps and returned with wonderful images.

Reading tip 2: this spring I was in Spitsbergen where I was confronted with wonderful mountains, (stories about) polar bears, guns and climate change. Read all of that here.



WidmerAuthor20 December 2019 · 19:52

What about Andermatt tomorrow, too much wind?

JeffrydejongAuthor20 December 2019 · 22:29


Should be snowing tomorrow. Today there where strong winds in the Central of Switzerland.

De Visboer
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