Yes! Around 15-40 cm of freshies came down the last 36 hours and it will start snowing again in the French Alps on Sunday night. It is the prelude to three days of snowfall (and some sunshine once in a while). We just have to hope that the announced rise of temperature won't be that string. But we can definitely ride some powder till that time. In this forecast:
I love it when science helps you through the dark days of December and that a plan comes together in the end. I announced that we could expect snowfall again at start of 2016 on the 20th of December. That wasn't based on the weather maps, because they offered little hope, but I used of recent data from scientific research. It took me many hours of research, reading and checking, but it was not in vain. The snow did come down at the start of 2016!
The first snow of the week came down yesterday. Around 15-40 of freshies came down in the northwest of the Alps in 36 hours. Initially this was still rain up to 1800 meters altitude, but when the cold front came in the snow line dropped rapidly towards the 700 meters. And that resulted in the beautiful pictures below. Check out more images in this article.
Most snow came down in the French Savoie and Isère (Paradiski, Tignes, Val Thorens, Alpe d'Huez), around the Mont Blanc (Chamonix), the west of Valais (Les Marécottes, Ovronnaz), around Engelberg and St. Moritz, around the Swiss Säntis, Vorarlberg and the Kleinwalsertal. It also snowed around the Italian Ortler. The remaining areas got less snow.
It's sunny today, but there the next snow is just waiting to come down. You can already see some high clouds in France at the moment. It's the prelude to the next snowfall. It will start snowing in the French Alps, but it will extend into the northern Alps later.
It won't stop snowing the next couple of days. And in some regions we're expecting so much snow that the snow maps are showing some black spots, like in Chamonix. Black spots on the snow maps mean over 200 centimeters of snow. But this is just in the high alpine (like the Aiguille du Midi) and the snowfall will be accompanied with heavy winds.
Black spots on the snow maps are good to fire up the stoke, but UIAGM mountain guide Roeland Van Oss based in Chamomix told us that much more snow is needed. The Vallée Blanche is a maze with lare crevasses and is quite a challenge at the bottom. The fixed ropes on the ridge from the Aguille du Midi aren't there yet as well. Lots of open crevasses are still visible on Les Grands Montets and there are many rocks on the lower parts of the mountain. The same challenges are to be found on the Courmayeur side. There is a rope required to reach the Toula glacier, because the glacier became smaller during summer and autums. You should ride out of bounds as if it's still early season with the early season hazards. A thin snow cover, lots of rocks, lots of crevasses on the glaciers and a very weak base layer. Forget about runs in the trees. Add the rapidly changing weather, strong winds and the increasing avalanche danger in the coming days and you'll know it's not picture perfect yet.
But hey, you definitely can ride powder! There's some good powder to be found in some bowl and the alpine meadows are improving evert day. You can ride powder, but ride smart. And especially during the few sunny spells. There is some room for the sun in the French Alps on Monday afternoon and in the northern Alps on Tuesday afternoon. Even Wednesday afternoon could be nice. It will snow in the French Alps and the northern Alps the remaining moments. Have a look at our snow maps for details about the snowfall. You can find even more details on the destination pages, for example the one about La Plagne, where there is a meter of fresh snow forecasted for the Roche de Mio.
The most snow will come down between Grenoble and the Arlberg tunnel the next couple of days. The western glaciers of Austria (Kaunertal, Pitztal, Sölden) will also get their share later this week. You'll also find the best base in these resorts. My tips below:
Isère and Savoie (check the details):
Especially Val Thorens, Tignes and parts of Paradiski have a decent base above 2200 meters. More freshies will come down tonight and conditions will improve.
Haute Savoie and the west of Wallis (check the details):
The resorts in this region often lack a base. The northern slopes with some grass will be quite good on Monday. Wait for the moment the sun will come out and you'll find some good snow. The conditions on La Balme (La Clusaz) are pretty good, and also the higher parts of Verbier are okay.
Berner Oberland (check the details):
You'll find a decent base above 2,000 meters, and with the new snow coming the conditions will improve even further. It will be partly cloudy on Sunday with 10-25 cm of freshies. It will continuously snow right after. I'm mainly talking about the resorts in the west of the region. Think of Engelberg, Hasliberg etc.
GFS is more positive this afternoon, and the higher temperatures are postponed a bit. It remains cold enough till Thursday and it will snow with (a fluctuating snow line) above 1700 to 2000 meters in the French Alps and 1200 to 1600 meters in Vorarlberg in the weekend. At lower altitude you can expect a mix of snow, wet snow and rain. More details tomorrow, but I'm quite positive.
How thick do you think the snowpack will be at the measure station on the Titlis in Engelberg on January 29th at 12.00? If you guessed it right, our friends from Bergzeit will send you a complete Avalanchet set: an Ortovox 3+ beacon, a Beast Shovel and a 240 Light PFA probe. Check out this article and leave you're prediction in the comments in this article!