Shifting weather: powder in the southwest and northwest


Door meteomorris op 5 maart 2018 · 3

You should have been here yesterday! PowderAlert #18 and PowderAlert #19 were deep, cold (as in: very cold), dry, epic and unforgettable. But as expected, it has been a lot milder in the Alps since Saturday. Due to the rising temperatures that followed after a period with a lot of wind, cold and a lot of fresh snow, the avalanche situation is very tense in parts of the Alps right now. A mix of cold and warm air will hit the Alps the next couple of days and the situation remains tense. In this forecast:

  • The end of an epic week
  • From southwest to northwest and back again
  • Mix of shifting temperatures, wind and precipitation: avalanche danger
  • Tips for the next couple of days

The end of an epic week

Mild air arrived in the Alps on Saturday afternoon, which ended an epic week. Whoever was riding in the Apennines, Piedmont or the southern French Alps saw the Alps at its best. PowderAlerts #18 and #19 brought ice cold powder to the aforementioned regions. It was really cold, but the snow was dry. A comparison with Canada or Japan does not apply, with that we would do wrong to the Alps. The Alps have the most beautiful high alpine terrain of perhaps the world and the high alpine runs in La Grave, Monte Rosa, Chamonix, Andermatt, Engelberg or St. Anton for example are so beautiful that there are few true alternatives worldwide.

And don't forget the epic treeruns in the Alps. There are times when the Alps are better than Canada and Japan. The lines in the larch trees of the Alps are something special. Usually steeper than Japan and technically sometimes even more challenging than Canada. Canada and Japan have statistically much more snow than the treeruns in the Alps, but when all elements come together ..... Last week was such a moment. It was peak season in the Alps and yet there were (parts of) areas where you could ride alone for hours in the forests and couloirs. Run after run.

11-year old son in the powder
11-year old son in the powder

From southwest to northwest and back again

A shifting jet stream determines the weather in the Alps the next couple of days. That looks something like this:

  • Monday: it snows on the south side of the main alpine ridge with a southwestern current. It snows in the western and southern Piedmont, as in the Alpe Adria. You can expect 5-20, locally 30 cm of fresh snow where the snow line varies between 1200 and 1700 meters. At the same time there is a mild Föhn from the south on the north side of the Alps and there was some room for the sun in the morning.
  • Tuesday: the weather is determined by a snow sandwich. Clouds with snow are still being pushed against the Alpe Adria, while at the same time some 'colder' air is pressed against the north side of the main alpine ridge. There is room for some sun in the afternoon in the west of the Alps.
  • Wednesday: snowfall again. Now in the west and northwest of the Alps, as in the Alpe Adria, but also in the main alpine ridge in Austria. It gets colder again.
  • Thursday and beyond: mild air arrives into the Alps. The snow line rises to high altitude and a period with lots of wet snow avalanches on the lower parts of the mountain starts.

Mix of shifting temperatures, wind and precipitation: avalanche danger

It was cold last week, but the snow that comes down since Saturday is much 'warmer' and therefore heavier, while the wind direction and strength change continuously and the same goes for the snow line and the air temperature. Last week I warned of rising avalanche danger in the west and southwest of the Alps, and that is no different in the coming days. Many faces that were good at the beginning of last week have suddenly become a super dangerous. Check your local avalanche forecast daily and adjust your plans to it!

Tips for the next couple of days

  • Monday: it's colder in the western and southern Piedmont with some fresh snow, the same goes for the Alpe Adria
  • Tuesday: still great conditions in the western and southern Piedmont
  • Wednesday: the riding will be good in the northwest of France (northern French Alps and the north of Switzerland). Not super deep, but pretty good
  • Thursday: get up early, the temperature will rise. It's still quite okay in the northwest of the Alps.
  • Stay stoked. Morris

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