Snowfall, heavy winds and The Big Change

Door meteomorris op 27 december 2016 · 5

There was no such thing as a white Christmas in In large parts of the Alps. It was mild and fresh snow was rare. It will be like this for most regions in the Alps until 2017. The only exception is the eastern part of the Alps (Salzburgerland, Steiermark, Ober- and Niederösterreich) where it snows heavily in the next 48 hours. An intense storm is coming in and will bring between 20-40 cm, locally even 50 cm of snow. But, as good as this may sound, it's still a no go for freeriding at the moment. There is almost no base and the combination of heavy winds and fresh snow creates a dangerous cocktail of an unstable snowpack that's too thin in a lot of places. This storm was the last chance for powder in the Alps in 2016. New chances coming in 2017 and let's hope The Big Change will come soon. My best bet so far: the 3rd of January. In this forecast:

  • Cold front with heavy winds
  • The Big Change: the 3rd of January

Cold front with heavy winds

An active current from the northwest resulted in a drop of the temperature last night and the temperature dropped in the complete northern Alps on Tuesday morning. It starts to snow in the east of the Alps, but the snowfall comes with heavy winds (and this will results in lots of lifts that will be closed). The snow line will drop to 400-800 meters and it will snow heavily in the northern Stau resorts in the Salzburgerland, Steiermark, Ober- and Niederösterreich. It will stop snowing after Wednesday. The temperatures will stay low in the eastern Alps, but will rise again in the French Alps. It will be mild again everywhere in the Alps by New Year's Eve and it won't feel like winter at all.

Snowfall the next 48 hours
Snowfall the next 48 hours

The Big Change: the 3rd of January

The Big Change will come in January. There are a couple of scenarios possible. And those scenarios could start on the 3rd of January, but things can still change of course. Lots of things will happen the next couple of days, but there's a good chance that low temperatures and snowfall will hit the Alps on the 3rd of January. There are two options:

  • A storm from the north
  • A storm from the west

A storm from the north

There was a storm from the north visible on the European model last night and this storm was visible on both the American and the European model this morning. This simply means snow and low temperatures for the north side of the Alps. A classic 'northern Stau'

A storm from the north on the maps
A storm from the north on the maps

A storm from the west

The American model came up with a storm from the west last night. This would mean the jackpot for the French Alps. But this storm unfortunately disappeared from the maps this morning.

Snowfall for the west
Snowfall for the west

Western jet stream above the Alps
Western jet stream above the Alps

The exact course of the jet stream will determine what will happen. The jet stream determines from which direction the storm will hit the Alps, how intense it will be and how much cold air and snowfall will reach the Alps.

It will be exciting the next couple of hours and couple of days. In the short term it will be interesting to see if we still can ride some powder in eastern Austria. The next few days will be interesting because they will give an answer whether and when The Big Change will actually happen and what it will look like. The good news is that, according to the weather models, there's also snow in the forecast after the 3rd of January.

Stay stoked. Morris


  • tch
    tch op 27 december 2016 · 18:10
    Meteomorris I really admire you for your patience on waiting for the big change. Me from now on I will only get excited the day -1.
  • richd
    richd op 28 december 2016 · 12:53
    @morris so Im in my 12 day road trip . Spent 4 glorious days in Prali and yesterday/today in monterosa. The later is proving rather awful. Think I'll head back to piedmont . Any tips ?
  • Muehlbach
    Muehlbach op 28 december 2016 · 14:24
    Got just under half a meter at Muehlbach (Hochkeil - 1500M.Alt) since last night and it's still lightly snowing.
    "Skiing is a dance, and the mountain always leads." - - - "There is no skiing without apres-ski. Fairly futile exercise if not followed by getting hammered in a bar."
  • meteomorris
    meteomorris op 29 december 2016 · 18:41
    @Muehlbach thanks for sharing
    May the powder be with you.
  • meteomorris
    meteomorris op 29 december 2016 · 18:43
    @richd, it's getting tougher to find any untracked spots unless you are willing to travel some distance into the backcountry.
    May the powder be with you.


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