What a week! WePowder’s new website has been launched and the first (tentative) turns are already possible. Rogier was in the French Southern Alps in brilliant autumn conditions (check also his article of today!) and here in Tirol, too, the first ski tracks have been set. Also check out the large amounts below that have fallen in Avoriaz. From today, my weather reports return to the usual days: Monday, Wednesday and Friday. And look what colourful maps we can start with again!
With the load of snow at higher altitudes, the topic of avalanches naturally returns. From beginners to experts, after the long summer it always gets a bit rusty and it never hurts to prepare well again for the new winter season: refresh your avalanche knowledge, check our updated wepowder academy and read the reports of the local avalanche services. This will give you a good idea of the snow cover and risks this early in the season.
If you go out to the glacier resorts now, only go off-piste with a guide. The warm summer has left many (new) glacier crevasses exposed again. It is still very early in the season, so many glacier crevasses are currently no longer visible, but are just under a thin layer of snow. Don’t forget this risk!
Strong jet stream
The jet stream dominates the weather in the Alps, as you have of course read here. This is also the case at this stage, where a fairly strong zonal (west-east oriented) jet stream has been firing depression after depression from the Atlantic towards the European continent. In the recent period, this jet stream was also fairly southerly, allowing colder air to occasionally move southwards. These are the two ingredients for the excellent seasonal start currently which has laid the base in the higher regions.
In the coming days (until the middle of next week), the jet stream will remain predominantly zonal, but at the same time it will creep a little to the north. You can see this well above on Monday and Tuesday. This puts the Alps on the warm side, but it remains changeable in the process. So this means that the higher areas can expect snow again, but the snowline will rise considerably. Time for some more details.
Snow into many valleys
Overnight (Friday to Saturday), snow will again follow in the north-west Alps, with a north-westerly flow also bringing considerably cooler air into the northern Alps. The snowline drops to around 1,000 metres altitude, locally at the Alpine northern edge several hundred metres lower. In that cold air, the northern side also faces some snow showers over the weekend. Above you can see the temperatures on Saturday morning at around 1,500 metres altitude. The blues are below freezing (check here the map with legend).
Sunday follows another wave of precipitation with slightly rising temperatures and a snowline from 1500 to 2000 metres. In the Northwest Alps, especially in the French Northern Alps and western Switzerland, serious amounts of 20 to 40 centimetres could fall above 2000 metres. Locally, half a metre is also possible higher up.
Monday warm front and rising snowline
The weather setting from Monday is very similar to that around Christmas last year. Unfortunately, this is not very positive news. It means it will be significantly warmer and there could be a lot of rain below 2,500 metres. In addition, stormy westerly winds will also be an issue. Especially along the northern edge of the Alps, wind gusts well above 100 kilometres per hour are to be expected. For mid-November, this expected rain is of course not so problematic compared to the situation at the end of December last year, but it is still a bit of a sore point after the loads of snow in recent days.
Whether the situation can really become critical a bit uncertain at the moment, but some models show very large amounts of rain in combination with wind and a snowline of 2500-2800 metres from Monday afternoon. The possibility of severe weather with chances of smaller floods of streams and small rivers is definitely there. In contrast, above 3000 metres, huge amounts of snow could fall.
From Tuesday night onwards colder and more snow
From Tuesday evening, the cold will regain ground from the north, with temperatures around or just above 0 degrees at 1500 metres. In the following days too, it seems to remain changeable with temperatures that could drop some more. So the outlook is fine again! More on this in a new weather report on Monday.
A good start to the winter in the alps, althoug as you talk about Christmas, it’s rarely 100% happiness. It’s a rollercoster to long for winter and snow. Hoping for a good, snowy December :)