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WeatherBlog 11 2022/23 | Accompanying blog to the alarm

Northwest traffic jam!

by Lea Hartl 02/01/2023
The oracle has already announced the key points: The coming days will bring heavy north-westerly accumulation with lots of fresh snow and wind. In terms of snowfall, the eastern Alps (from around Arlberg) look better than the west. A look at the large-scale structures explains why this is the case!

The general weather situation

Our weather is almost always made over the Atlantic. At the moment, the jet stream there is quite zonal and is pushing a series of fronts towards Europe. Low pressure centers over northeast Canada and Scandinavia "control" the jet. There have already been a few unproductive flakes from this constellation in the last few days. Today (Wednesday) is still fairly calm before the alarm congestion arrives tomorrow.

The Azores High, which is currently located relatively far east off the coast of Portugal, is decisive for this development. It will move a little further east over the next few days and also bulge northwards. This will cause the jet over the eastern Atlantic to undulate - the current will have to move northwards and past the high before it reaches the Alps. According to the current forecast, the high pressure will extend as far as the British Isles on Thursday and Friday. Downstream (to the east) of it, a Scandinavian low pressure system with cold air and fronts will slide southwards. If the high, all other things being equal, were located a little further west, for example over the Azores, where it is usually found, the north-westerly accumulation and the corresponding snowfall would also land a little further west. Details on the core areas of the and the snowfall amounts can be found in this very article.

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The outlook

After the snow is before the snow! Comparatively friendly weather is on the cards for the weekend. Saturday will be sunny from the west, but the further east we go, the longer the last snow showers and clouds will linger. The first bluebird day after the snowfall therefore falls on the weekend - an often accident-prone combination. The avalanche situation will certainly be very tense due to the combination of a lot of fresh snow, wind and often not particularly great old snow cover and appropriate restraint is called for.

The Azores high will probably remain relevant at least until the beginning of next week and produce a mixture of high pressure in the west and more mixed, quite cold conditions in the east. Depending on the exact development, there may also be fresh snow again, with the potential for this due to the NE flow, especially on the eastern edge of the Alps. As is so often the case, there are uncertainties regarding the exact position of the pressure centers, which don't look like much on the maps but can make a big difference in practice.

January balance: high temperatures, precipitation varies greatly

The Alpine weather services deliver the usual sober figures just in time for the turn of the month and unsurprisingly find that last January was mostly warmer than the long-term average. In Austria, it was 2.6°C warmer than the average for the period 1991-2020. Compared to the period 1961-1990, it was even 4°C too warm. It was also drier than usual in most of the Austrian Alps, although the heavy snowfall in the south-east significantly improved the regional balance. In Switzerland, it was almost entirely too dry, with January values close to average or slightly above average only in the far west.

We hope that a few more heavy accumulations will follow in February and polish up the snow statistics everywhere!

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This article has been automatically translated by DeepL with subsequent editing. If you notice any spelling or grammatical errors or if the translation has lost its meaning, please write an e-mail to the editors.

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