Wet-snow avalanches are difficult to forecast, as the change from stable to unstable snow conditions occurs rapidly in a wet snowpack, often in response to water production and movement. Snow stratigraphy plays a vital role in determining flux behaviour. Capillary barriers or melt–freeze crusts can impede and divert water horizontally over large areas and thus may act as a failure layer for wet-snow avalanches. We present a comparison of measured and modelled liquid water content, θ
w, and snow stratigraphy during periods of wet-snow instabilities. Special attention is given to the reproducibility of capillary barriers, ponding of water on melt–freeze crusts and the timing of first wetting and of water arrival at the bottom of the snowpack, because these factors are believed to play a major role in the formation of wet-snow avalanches. In situ measurements were performed in the vicinity of automatic weather stations or close to recent wet-snow avalanches in order to compare them with model results. The simulations are based on two different water flux models incorporated within the 1-D snow-cover model SNOWPACK. The comparison of the two model runs with observed θw and stratigraphy revealed that both water-transport models reproduced the ponding of water on melt–freeze crusts. However, in both models melt–freeze crusts were transformed to normal melt forms earlier than observed in nature, so still existing ponding was not captured by the models. Only one of the models was able to reproduce capillary barriers in agreement with observations. The time of the first wetting at the surface was well predicted, but the simulated arrival time of the wetting front at the bottom of the snowpack differed between the simulations; it was either too early or too late compared with the observation.