Some resorts at the lowest levels of skiing have had to close due to unseasonably warm temperatures and low snowfall. Europe began the new year with record breaking temperatures.
Fears about the effects of climate change on mountain towns that depend on winter tourism have been rekindled by barren mountainsides and slushy runs.
According to Meteo France, the temperatures in France at the close of the year were the highest for 25 years.
Similar results were seen in Switzerland, where a meteorological station in the Jura range recorded a record daily average temperature of 18.1C on New Year’s Day.
One meteorologist called it “hard to understand” and said that January temperatures records had been broken in several European countries.
Particularly struggling for snow are the French Pyrenees and northern Alps. Some resorts had to close after only a month of being open.
Ax 3 Domaines was the latest to close, located near France’s border of Andorra. It closed on Saturday, after just a few weeks.
Le Gets, Morzine and the Portes de Soleil are part of the most popular area. Currently, there are only two runs.
Laurent Reynaud, Domaines Skiables de France representative of resorts and lift operators, said that “there was a good start for the season with a cool wave in mid-December which provided some snow to pretty much everyone.”
“Then, last Wednesday, there was quite some rain and warm temperatures. So a certain amount of runs had to be closed again.”
The World Cup Skiing race will be held on Saturday in Adelboden, Switzerland. This year, the race will be run on artificial snow 100%.
Splugen-Tambo in Switzerland, which has a base elevation of 1480m said Monday it would close “until further notice”.
It released a statement saying that “Unfortunately, due the lack of snow and the heavy rains and high temperatures, our ski resort will be closed from January 2, 2023 until further notice.”
Still some snow is available – the southern Alps, and slopes above 2,200m have snowfall that is close to normal. However, skiers and snowboarders will need to go high.
However, many towns at lower elevations are losing out and are now planning for a future that focuses more on activities like hiking all year.
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Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic are just a few of the countries that broke temperature records this year. The conditions were more spring-like than usual.
Warsaw registered 18.9C in January, breaking the previous record by more than 5C. Ohlsbach, southwest Germany, had 19.4C and Bilbao, northern Spain, recorded 25.1C.
Prague had 17.7C as the warmest New Year’s Eve in 247 year-old records.
Scott Duncan, a London-based meteorologist, tweeted the following on New Year’s Day. “We just observed our warmest January day ever recorded for many European countries. This is truly unprecedented in modern records.
Wim Thiery is a climate scientist at the University of Brussels. He said that the jet stream, which brings warm air from the subtropical regions into Europe, had contributed to the rise in temperatures.
He warned that climate change could have a profound impact on winter tourism in Europe.
“Skiing in the Alps will be gone by the end of this century.
These problems will only get worse in the future because snow will continue melting as long as the climate heats.