January 2019 snowfalls on the north side of the Alps

Well, I’m very fond of snow and getting into the backcountry in a winter wonderland, so I thought I’d share some information on the heavy snowfalls that occurred along the north side of the Alps at the start of January, which, until recently,  caused infrastructure disruption and ongoing high avalanche risks.

The snow started at the beginning of the year and has not let up much since. So how come this happened? It had been a pretty dry winter season until then. So here is an informative series of posts from severe-weather.eu, essentially describing the way in which the splitting of the polar vortex (a persistent, predominantly single-centred low pressure system at high latitudes)

An Arctic outbreak into east-central Europe and Balkan peninsula through early January (Jan 2 – 6th)

Sudden Stratospheric Warming underway, mid/late January could see some serious winter weather across a large part of Europe

Stau effect will dump large amounts of snow in northern Alps later this week

*UPDATE* on the splitting Polar Vortex and winter trends across the European continent through mid January

Latest model guidance for mid/late January winter weather across Europe

Extreme amount of fresh snow for northern Alps (Austria) through Jan 6th – more than 100 cm likely in places

Hold on, north Austria! Extremely deep snow will get even deeper this week as another 50-100 cm of snow is likely to fall

No snow for the southern side of the Alps in the foreseeable future

*UPDATE* on the major snowstorm for the northern Alps this week – another 100+ cm of snow likely in some areas

No end to the heavy snowfall in sight in Austria and Switzerland – *update* on the extreme snowfall across the northern Alps

Check the Tirol Avalanche Report for latest avalanche conditions.

And have a look at the latest advice from freeriders at Powder guide

Another interesting thing is that the Austrian weather service makes their high resolution forecast model (INCA) available for free during such extreme weather events so we can have a look at these usually restricted data: https://www.zamg.ac.at/incaanalyse/

About lindsey

Environmental scientist. I am glaciologist specialising in glacier-climate interactions to better understand the climate system. The point of this is to understand how glaciated envionments might change in the future - how the glaciers will respond and what the impact on associated water resources and hazard potential will be.
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