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Alps & Pyrenees Snow Thread 2015/16


J10

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I posted this over in Model Moans thread in response to a 'got to get the interesting charts out of FI' type post, but it's equally as relevant here.

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Ravelin, very frustrating waiting for the snow to arrive. Looking at the UKMO up to the 19th, shows the Polar Front making some in roads to Euro High, but its a waving front that never makes into the Alps as yet. However, there is now increased hope for some snowfall for the weekend 20/21st Novemeber.

C

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Finally, the first decent snowfall of the season lined up for the Alps for next weekend 21st - 22nd November. I believe we can now be reasonably confident about this as there is both cross model support and Height Anomaly support.

 

Starting with the 500 hPa Height Anomaly. Here's the latest chart showing the mean GFS and ECM anomalies over the 3 days Sunday 22nd to Tues 24th November. I've marked the ECM output on the left with an arrow pointing to the Alps. Both models show low heights (so low pressure) digging deep into Europe. The direction of the contour lines indicating the N/NW flow.

 

post-20040-0-10784100-1447583754_thumb.j

 

Looking at the 850 hPa charts from GFS and ECM for Sunday 22nd at 0.00 hours show both in agreement for a N/NW'ly cold blast hitting the Alps with the -5C isotherm (temp at approx 1,500 metres elevation) digging in. GFS even showing a 'Genoa Low' forming south of the Alps with the effect of turning the flow easterly and squeezing the isobars, so a possibly stormy spell.

 

GFS  post-20040-0-87787900-1447583791_thumb.p ECM  post-20040-0-40097300-1447583815_thumb.p

 

Zooming in on some detailed Alps Charts, these show freezing level falling from around 1,200m early in the weekend to 400m or lower later on Sunday, so eventually snow falling down at village level for all resorts. Into the new week (23rd on) and freezing level by day will gradually rise to around 1,400m by Friday, but overnight temps remain very low allowing snow cannons to operate.

 

Sun 22nd 0.00 post-20040-0-19249400-1447583858_thumb.p Mon 23rd 0.00 post-20040-0-74504500-1447583880_thumb.p

 

Precipitation charts suggest snow will fall from Saturday afternoon through to Monday.

 

Sun 22nd 0.00 post-20040-0-95481700-1447583939_thumb.p Mon 23rd 0.00 post-20040-0-70621400-1447583983_thumb.p

 

So it’s looking very promising for a change in fortunes for the Alps in a week’s time. The detail will change but hopefully the overall pattern will remain solid.

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Malcolm looks like a change is a coming. At long last Euro High to be blasted away. Our guys are talking of storm force winds in the mountains prior to the colder conditions filter in. So we need a good dump of snow before piste base work can start. We have our portal snow surface update tomorrow, which has a high percentage success rate. The fine mesh model we use can only really be effective regarding snow totals until about 36 hours before the event. The snow event prognosis will be interesting to hear at least.

 C

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Carinthian, if the temperatures are low enough do you think the resorts will start to produce artificial snow or is it too early yet? I know it doesn't come cheap and they won't want to risk it melting. Probably not an easy call but wondering if they have a 'not before' date.

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Carinthian, if the temperatures are low enough do you think the resorts will start to produce artificial snow or is it too early yet? I know it doesn't come cheap and they won't want to risk it melting. Probably not an easy call but wondering if they have a 'not before' date.

 

 Ravelin, snow makers can be used at night when temp falls several degrees below freezing, however, if the upper air temps remain above freezing during the day would be a waste of money. However, higher resorts could just get away with it. So really we are looking for maximum use during cold weather. We have the guns in place, all tested and ready to go. Tomorrow we will know what the score will be. A lot of preparation will be required, but if the conditions are ripe , the making guns will be in full prolonged use as we have our own eco water supply located at 2000m.

 C

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Thanks for all the updates I have been keeping an eye on conditions, but as others have said it has been a slow start to the season so far.


Malcolm looks like a change is a coming. At long last Euro High to be blasted away. Our guys are talking of storm force winds in the mountains prior to the colder conditions filter in. So we need a good dump of snow before piste base work can start. We have our portal snow surface update tomorrow, which has a high percentage success rate. The fine mesh model we use can only really be effective regarding snow totals until about 36 hours before the event. The snow event prognosis will be interesting to hear at least.

 C

 

Looking forward to this update tomorrow.

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Carinthian, if the temperatures are low enough do you think the resorts will start to produce artificial snow or is it too early yet? I know it doesn't come cheap and they won't want to risk it melting. Probably not an easy call but wondering if they have a 'not before' date.

 

Hi Ravelin. Just to add to Carinthian's excellent answer. I think any economic argument boils down to the financial penalty of not opening a resort on time versus the cost of running the cannons. This 2006 article on the BBC website suggests that when the real stuff hasn't arrived, resorts will use cannons to start building a base ready for the start of the season. Extracts:

 

The first snow has fallen across the high ski resorts in the Alps this week ahead of the coming season - but it has not come from the skies, but from machines.

With the season due to start in a few weeks, for some resorts in Europe there has been no significant snowfall, and already there are some worries for the all-important Christmas and New Year period. However, the recent cold weather has meant the snow cannons can get going, as they require the temperature to fall below freezing before they can make snow.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6137348.stm

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Thanks for the answers guys.

Obviously it's pretty much guesswork beyond about a week on the weather and air temps so anytime is somewhat of a gamble. If it's looking like good temps out as far as you can see, do you gamble and make snow. Later it could warm up sufficiently for it to thaw, but it might not. If you wait, you could lose your chance e.g. temps at or just below freezing won't allow you to make snow, but wouldn't mean you lose much if you'd gone ahead earlier.

I'm sure those that have to make that decision will have had many seasons experience to draw from.

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Thanks for all the updates I have been keeping an eye on conditions, but as others have said it has been a slow start to the season so far.

 

Looking forward to this update tomorrow.

 

Bingo Julian. The ideal chart we want to see for the start of next week.Trough disruption leaving to the eventual cut off circulation in the region of coldest air ( ie the alps )  Plenty of moisture feed in that flow as well combined with -10c 850mb height temps ( aprox 5000ft asl ). This set up with height rises to the SW, Low over Scandinavia with associated trough and Blocking over Western Scandinavia is ideal. Plenty of snowfall on the cards widely for Alpine regions with snow level dropping to 500m on arrival of cold front later in the week. We do not expect height rises as per Euro/High to pursue , more likely to remain in the cold side of the flow from Iceland direction.  The fine mesh model that predicts snow fairly accurately wiLL come into use I would think by late Friday. Looking at the chart attached, I think some substantial accumulations will occur , just in time !!

 C

post-3489-0-59129500-1447670644_thumb.gi

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Looking very promising indeed for this weekend with (as things stand) the heaviest falls likely to be across the northern and western Alps. Snowfall amounts across the southern Alps less certain - it all depends where any secondary lows form once the initial flood of polar air takes hold. Full blow Genoan low looks unlikely though. . 

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Some snow forecasts giving falls up to 1.5 meters from Friday to Monday in the Portes du Soleil!

 

I've learned to take any snow forecasts with a huge pinch of salt, especially this far out. Every site differs in exact amounts, often by a huge margin, and they change massively on a daily basis. Best we can probably say for now it that a good portion of the Alps will get snow this weekend, some areas may even get a good dump.

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With just a few days to go before the snow arrives, here's a quick look at the latest snowfall forecasts for a spread of resorts across the Alps & Pyrenees. The forecasts are for mid-mountain.

 

France - Les Deux Alpes 2636m 100cm
Swiss - Wengen 1672m 73cm
Italy - Sauze d’Oulx 2086m 31cm
Austria - Kitzbuhel 1400m 39cm

Pyrenees - Grandvalira Pas de la Casa 2345m 20cm

 

Forecast charts for above resorts, courtesy of snowforecast.com. Look at all those temperatures in blue!

 

Deux Alpes post-20040-0-96138900-1447882449_thumb.j Wengen post-20040-0-34917300-1447882480_thumb.j

 

Sauze post-20040-0-42122600-1447882650_thumb.j Kitzbuhel post-20040-0-78288300-1447882688_thumb.j Pas Casa post-20040-0-70279900-1447883242_thumb.j

 

The 850 hPa charts show the -5C isotherm over the Alps for Sun & Mon and the 0C isotherm holds for much of the following week with temps remaining well below freezing by night. Me thinks a busy week coming up for snow cannons and piste bashers as work starts on knocking pistes into shape.

 

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With just a few days to go before the snow arrives, here's a quick look at the latest snowfall forecasts for a spread of resorts across the Alps & Pyrenees.

 

The 850 hPa charts show the -5C isotherm over the Alps for Sun & Mon and the 0C isotherm holds for much of the following week with temps remaining well below freezing by night. Me thinks a busy week coming up for snow cannons and piste bashers as work starts on knocking pistes into shape.

 

Looking good. As I said over in the models area, today's GFS 0Z would be a great run for the ski resorts, both in Scotland and the Alps I'd expect. it keeps most of Europe on the colder side of the jetstream, with several low pressure systems dropping into Europe from the NW.

 

Probably not very good for low lying areas, but the mountains would get repeated top ups.

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Using this evening's charts from the GFS 0.25 degree model I've animated the snowfall accumulation for the Alps this weekend. The animation runs from midday Fri 20th through to Mon 23rd. Best movie I've seen in a long time!

(Click on the image to watch).

 

post-20040-0-50613300-1447960839_thumb.g

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Just had a look at the Webcams over parts of France this evening, looking very wet in places, I dare say tomorrow they may look very different.

It was the same in Austria earlier on the St.Anton cams, though you could see some snow sticking high up. Hopefully by tomorrow morning all the cams in the Alps will be showing nice wintry scenes.

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Relief in Austria at the imminent arrival of the snow. This on the Osterreich website wetter.at today (extracts). (With some great translation from Goggle!).

 

Lucky: In keeping with the season starting in the ski resorts, now comes the snow. For weeks they had trembled, now is clear: Peter says it still good with the ski resorts and sends to the ski openings - Extra snow.
31 Openings: Later this month, for more than two dozen resorts the season starts. Among them: Ischgl coming this Thursday and Obertauern on Friday.

Excited Tourism: "The onset of winter is perfect," says the president of the Hotel Association Gregor Hoch. Snow cannons are now running at full speed."

 

http://www.wetter.at/wetter/oesterreich-wetter/Ski-Openings-sind-dank-Schnee-jetzt-gerettet/212831393

 

In another article:

 

After the Spring weather is cold now - and deep winter in the West!

Ice-cold polar wind from Greenland, up to 70 centimeters of fresh snow and daytime temperatures of minus three degrees! Meteorologists are certain that with the mild weather of recent weeks and temperatures of up to 23.9 degrees as Wednesday afternoon in the Styrian Köflach it is from now finally over. Better yet for all cooling fans: Now comes the winter - and how! By the (Saturday) afternoon the snow line drops to up to 400 meters, the wind blows fiercely partly from West to East.
On Sunday it will be even colder. "By the beginning of next week we can expect on the mountains between fifty and seventy centimeters," explains Thomas Krennert, weather expert at the ZAMG.

 

http://www.wetter.at/wetter/oesterreich-wetter/Jetzt-kommt-der-Schnee/212740690

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5cm at Wengen and 10cm at 7000ft, more predicted way down into the valley

If you are snow starved then this link may give you a lift.

http://www.lauberhorn.ch/en/?langId=2

even Derbyshire web cams with a fair number showing snow down to about 8-900ft

http://www.derbyshireheritage.co.uk/Menu/webcams/camlist.php

or the ski spots in Scotland

seems not to be working this morning-sorry

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The cold front just about here, little snow at present but some accumulations further north and west of here. As expected looks like a wave formation to take place along this front and our location will benefit from this circulation. So a snowy scene should soon develop as the day progresses.

 C

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Certainly more snow falling further west in the Arlberg region. Picture from Ober Lech towards the main village.That particular fodder station is famous for its Fondue night parties and the only way back to the village is the slide down in a black bin liner. Makes for a good laugh after a few glogs !

 C

 

post-3489-0-86182000-1448102938_thumb.jp

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