After the warmest New Year anyone can remember, winter is making a welcome comeback to the Alps this evening.
A cold front will cross the region overnight, heading southeast – and it will bring snow to almost all resorts by Wednesday evening. Only those in Piedmont and the Aosta Valley in Italy are likely to miss out (except on slopes close to the French and Swiss borders).
The snow will settle at almost every level as temperatures drop. In the French Alps for example, it’s expected down to 1000m tonight. Temperatures will remain low for the rest of the week. Both Corvara in the Alta Badia and St Anton in the Tirol are expecting highs of -5C on Thursday. St Moritz in Switzerland will be even colder, with temperatures no higher than -8C on Thursday.
Generally, only light to moderate snowfalls are expected, in the 10-15cm range. But as you can see from Meteoblue’s snowforecast, above, there are heavier falls predicted in a few spots, notably the eastern Dolomites in Italy, Slovenia and the Arlberg and Salzburgerland in Austria. At the eastern end of the Alps there are likely to be stronger winds too. You can expect the avalanche risk to increase significantly as a result.
The change in the weather will be welcomed across the region, as the cover has thinned dramatically on lower slopes in the thaw – especially in the west. Conditions off-piste are tricky too, with the snow by turns crusty and wet.
Admittedly, the new snow won’t be deep enough to repair the damage off-piste, in the short term. But there will be an immediate improvement on the groomed runs. More of the white stuff is expected too: over Austria and eastern Switzerland on Wednesday and Thursday, France and western Switzerland on Friday and then across the whole of the northern side of the Alps on Sunday (see below). The cold weather will mean the snow cannons can run where they’re needed, too.
Expect the avalanche risk to be significantly higher by Sunday, especially in the west – as the new snow is likely to bond poorly with the crusty, refrozen cover underneath.