Dry and warm, tomorrow and Friday some snow in the northwestern Alps

Dry and warm, tomorrow and Friday some snow in the northwestern Alps
Accumulative precipitation until the 7th of January (ECMWF, wxcharts.com)
Accumulative precipitation until the 7th of January (ECMWF, wxcharts.com)

The precipitation map for the upcoming period speaks volumes. Over the entire period, we see a large area in Central and South(Eastern) Europe where it remains almost dry. The culprit is the jet stream that sends the Atlantic depressions in a wide arc around Central and Southern Europe. It doesn’t stay completely dry though. The Northwest Alps in particular can occasionally pick up some snow on the edge of a low pressure system that moves from (south)west to (north)east above Northern Europe. For the other parts of the Alps, this precipitation remains largely out of reach.

The jet stream deflects low pressure systems towards northern Europe (meteociel.fr)
A cold front will graze the northwestern Alps Thursday evening (wetter3.de, DWD)

Cold front grazes the Alps

Tomorrow we will see such a moment when the Northwest Alps can get some snow. A cold front that is part of the low pressure system over the North Sea and off the coast of Norway grazes the Alps. In the evening, the precipitation intensifies a bit, with about 5 to 15 centimeters of snow as a result. The snow line will be around or just above 1500 meters.

A warm front will cause rising temperatures (wetter3.de, DWD)
A warm front will cause rising temperatures (wetter3.de, DWD)

Behind it is the next low pressure system that follows the same northeasterly course over Scotland. The associated warm front is approaching the Alps from the west. In the French Northern Alps, about 10 to 15 centimeters of snow can fall again, but the warm front will cause rising temperatures and therefore a rising snow line. Friday evening possibly even up to 2500 meters. In the other parts of the Alps it remains (almost) dry.

GFS and ECMWF Ensembles for the gridpoint of Grenoble (wetterzentrale.de)

Very warm end of the year

The following days are dominated by a winter heat wave. Temperatures will rise again on Saturday, especially on the north side of the Alps due to the supply of warm air in combination with föhn. Here we see temperatures of more than 10 degrees at an altitude of 1500 meters and temperatures in the valleys that can exceed 15 degrees. The mild weather with a mix of (lots of) sun and high clouds will last at least until Monday. It stays slightly cooler in the Southern Alps.

Slow cooling

Looking at the ensembles, we see that the cooling after the warm start of 2023 is veeeery slow. Most ensemble members of both the GFS and ECMWF will still show temperatures (well) above normal until the end of next week. We don’t have to expect too much at the moment either in terms of precipitation signals. We may see some snow in the middle of next week, but for now it doesn’t seem like amounts to write home about. Let’s hope that we will see some changes in the weather models in the coming days!

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juancarlosdominguezlemoineAuthor28 December 2022 · 17:30

Lets home something good happens in mid January, else another “wasted” European winter… 1 or 2 years is bad luck but 11 winters in a row. seriously considering moving to America.

LiBTech1978proAuthor28 December 2022 · 21:10

Weather in mountains changes very quick, I bet that at altitude 2500 meters you can enjoy snowboarding and skiing

batozAuthor29 December 2022 · 13:39

Dolomites are looking hopeless this season

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