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By Luke Stone, Forecaster Posted 17 days ago June 1, 2024

Late Spring Surprise Brings Heavy Snow to the Alps

The upper elevations of the Alps in France, Switzerland, Italy, and Austria received significant snowfall over the last two days. Five resorts remain open and some legitimate powder skiing and riding is possible. Some small additional accumulations are expected during the day on Saturday, especially in the Austrian Alps, but the brunt of the storm is over. 

A strong and cold storm moved through the Alps over the last few days, bringing significant snow at upper elevations. Below is a map of the estimated snow totals in the Alps over the last three days. There is a large area in the northern Alps, stretching from France, Switzerland, and Italy into Austria, with 6 - 12 in (15 - 30 cm) of snow. In some of the higher elevations of the Swiss and Austrian Alps, some areas likely saw 30 - 40 in (75 - 100 cm) of snow. This estimated snowfall product even has some spots in the 40 - 60 in (1 - 1.5 m). Marginal temperatures may have prevented these huge totals, but this storm certainly had a profound impact on the region. 

Check out some of the images and snow totals from across the region as the storm dropped some impressive snow for the last day of May.

Hintertux Glacier is reporting 8 in (20 cms) as of Friday morning, although it looks deeper than that.

Fluela Pass in Switzerland has received 2 feet (60 cm) as of Saturday morning. 

Kuhtai in Austria reported 3.5 in (9 cm) on Friday morning. 

This storm resulted from a strong upper-level area of low pressure (blue colors) dropping south into the Alps starting on Thursday, as you can see below. This was a classic example of a Nordweststau, which is a type of storm that brings moist northwesterly winds, oftentimes with heavy snowfall, to the northern Alps. These storms typically impact the Alps during the Winter months, but they can occur in the Spring as well.

As is often the case with these types of storms, due to their northwest winds funneling cold air from the north into the Alps, temperatures were well below normal. As the storm moved into central Europe, it brought cold air (indicated by the blue colors) into France, southern Germany, northern Spain, Italy, and all of the Alps, as you can see below.

This storm track and type of storm (Nordweststau), with moist northwest winds directed at the Alps, combined with the below-normal temperatures, was the perfect recipe for a strong spring snowstorm in the Alps. 

In addition to Hintertux, Kitzsteinhorn, Zermatt, Les 2 Alpes, and Moelltal Glacier remain open. Some additional showers are possible through Tuesday, although temperatures will start to gradually increase on Sunday. 

Luke Stone
Forecaster, OpenSnow

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About The Author

Luke Stone

Forecaster

Luke Stone earned his M.S. in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Utah, with a research focus on seasonal forecasting. Luke has scored deep days around the world, including coast-to-coast across the United States, Canada, and Europe.

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