Good to go in 2014
PowderAlert #8 was less intense than #7, but still brought around 25-50 centimeters of freshies to the Alps and the pictures said it all. We received lots of reports through the PowderQuest app.
And this is just a selection. You'll find more reports here. The southern Alps have a fantastic snowcover (quantity wise) and the western Alps and even Switzerland got plenty of freshies during PowderAlerts #6, #7 and #8. This winter is a southern winter. Huge low pressure areas above the Atlantic Ocean are firing front after front to the Alps. This often results in Föhn in the northern Alps and snow in the southern Alps, and later on in the western Alps, the main alpine ridge and Switzerland. Even the Arlberg region gets some in the end.
The resorts at lower altitude in Tirol, Salzburgerland, Steiermark and Niederösterreich are dying for some freshies. At least they have a lot of alpine meadows as surface, but it's hard to find epic powder runs. And unfortunate for them, this won't change any time soon.
The forecasted Föhn was brought to you by PowderAlert #8. I talked about the weather station in Adelboden before. You could see the effect of the Föhn pretty good here. The wind turned southwest and was pretty strong for a while.The wind in Adelboden
In the meantime, the temperatures got up to too warm. A typical Föhn situation. It didn't climb up to 10.2 degrees (like in PowderAlert #7), but the still hit 7 degrees (and yes, that's above zero and that's not good for powder).
Adelboden is a typical place in the Alps where you can notice the south(west)Föhn immediately. After the Föhn, the front came in from the westsouthwest. Another 30-50 centimeters of freshies with a northern ‘kickback' at the end of the night. That resulted in snow in the Vorarlberg. The three phases of PowderAlert #8 were complete.
Was this is it for 2013?
Yes, winter 12-13 was pretty good for the western and northern Alps, but pretty bad for the southern Alps. The start of winter 13-14 was good for the southern Alps and that's not going to change in the last days of 2013. Will 2014 bring new snow for the northern Alps?
What will 2014 bring?
The first 7-10 days will be too warm, with Föhn in the northern Alps and lots of snow in the western and southern Alps. If you're going on a trip the following week, I would go for the higher resorts in Italy or France, or the most southern resorts in Switzerland and Austria. The so-called ensembles are giving this information. Check out the forecasts of the northern, southern and western Alps.
It will be too warm in the northern Alps, the Föhn will kick in on a regular basis and there will be some snow during the PowderAlert from 3-5 January.
The northern Alps
The southern Alps are drowning in snow already. It's a little bit too warm for the time of the year, but that's not dramatic at all. The freezing level is around 1300 meters and it will stay cold in the inneralpine valleys. Add the upcoming PowderAlert and the result: plenty of powder the next couple of weeks in the larch trees! You'll have to pay attention above the treeline, because northern ‘kickbacks' will bring northern Föhn, wind and drift snow.
You'll be okay in the higher alpine resorts in the western Alps. But luckily enough, most of the resorts in France are above 1500 meters. Add the upcoming PowderAlert and you'll find plenty of powder on northern slopes and of course in the larch tress in the French southern Alps.
The next update will be on the last day of the year, and after that we're ready for 2014. Winter is still starting, and we have four more months to go.
And again, the warning that might save your life: The snowcover in the complete Alps is really unstable. The problem is caused by the base layer that's there since the autumn. A lot of avalanches came down after the most recent snowfall and this will probably the case with the next snowfall. If you're heading out, be alert. Check your daily avalanche bulletin, make sure you have the right gear and that you have the right knowledge. Not sure about your skills or knowledge? Don't go into the backcountry or hire a qualified mountain guide. Or just wait for the conditions to improve. It's a long season.