When summer is over, winter takes over my life again. Fed by countless apps, mails, texts, PM's with questions like 'Will this be a good winter in the Alps?' My standard answer is always 'very good'. And when I look back than I'll have to conclude that I was always right. I've been looking at the weather in the Alps for over thirty years. Thirty years in which I was able to minimize my winter forecast to a single sentence: Be flexible and you'll always have a good, maybe even an epic winter! Let me give you five reasons why this is 100% true.
Winter forecasts aren't always correct. To say at least. That's not strange. Computer models may have been improved over the last decades, but it's extremely difficult to forecast the weather for a complete season. It's already difficult to forecast the weather in 7 days. If the weather forecasts are predicting the weather from 7 days or more, than 50% is wrong. Sounds like betting at a roulette table in the casino.
The season above 2000 meter last between 100 to 150 days, that's around five months with all kinds of snow. Powder, slush, corn, you name it.
But your trip to ride powder don't last 150 days (you wish). If the winter forecast tells you that this winter will be 0.5 degrees colder with 10% more snowfall than normal, what does it tell you? Well it's an average, so if you book your accommodation far in advance you still have the chance of ending up in one of the 'bad' weeks and your winter sucks. Like a lot of people experienced last winter. You just have to be there at the right time. Check out the third stop of our roadtrip through Switzerland.
Plenty of skiers and snowboarders are psychologically stuck to their home resorts. Simply because they live there, it's only a short drive or they're coming there for years. Riding powder in the same resort in the Austrian Vorarlberg or the French Savoie has it advantages, but there's more to explore.
I simply chase storms. I found great powder in resorts all over the Alps, have great memories about mister Lombardi in Airolo, still smell the coffee from Prali, still taste the tartiflette from Seythenex and sometimes I wish I was still stuck in villages like Alagna, Vogel or Champex. Powder leads you to new resorts, new cultures, new people. King Winter doesn't always pick your resort to drop the white magic stuff, so you'd better make sure you're in the lead on this one!
Don't underestimate the influence of the seasons! You'll find the first snow on the glaciers, but you'll probably have the best days in a resort like Damüls at the end of February and you can ride steep lines in Chamonix at the end of April. Every month is different. The conditions in the pre-Alps normally are at best in the middle of winter, but you'd better visit the resorts in the main alpine ridge in the beginning or at the end of the season (from March). The location of your destination combined with the part of the season are two factors that you should take into account. And I didn't even talk about all the micro climates yet.
Sometimes winter starts in October, sometimes the first significant snow comes down at the end of December. Sometimes winter takes a break in January only to come back in February. You simply have to be flexible if you want to ride fresh powder. Book as late as possible. If there's no snow at your destination of choice in December, simply look at a destination where there's snow in the forecast. Simply follow our PowderAlerts and you'll have the winter of a lifetime.
I normally never say this kind of stuff, but it could be that this winter will be colder than normal. The snowcover in Siberia has grown (especially below 60 degrees latitude), while there's less ice at the Arctic for the time of year. Two indicators that point to a winter that's colder than normal.
Anyway, you still might book in the wrong week, at the wrong resort or in the wrong month. Ski resorts make all kinds of guarantees nowadays: warm buttocks thanks to heated chairs, the best après ski, the best hotels, artificial snow and fancy wellness, but there's not a simple resort that can guarantee the most important factor of my trip: fresh snow. And that's a good thing, because for me, riding powder is about exploring.
Happy hunting this season!