Adelboden, a popular Swiss resort, has been keeping its collective breath as the country has experienced record-breaking New Year’s Day temperatures of 20 degrees Celsius, the warmest ever recorded thus far north of the Alps.
Since the normally snowy slopes were covered in muck and grass, many were concerned about whether or not next weekend’s ski World Cup would go on.
Above-freezing conditions persisted even at a height of 2,000 meters (6,500 feet).
The legendary Chuenisbärgli piste was eventually permitted for use in major slalom competitions.
In addition to a temperature decrease at the peak of the race, an army of snow cannons was required. The best men’s skiers in the world will race on man-made snow, however.
The start of the ski season has been severely hampered by the extremely warm and wet weather across the Alps.
The Snow shortage is known as Schneemangel in German. Das Weisse Gold, or “white gold,” is a term used to describe an abundance of snow. It’s a sign of how many mountain towns rely on winter activities for economic survival.
They’ll have to reevaluate in the new year’s first month.
Almost a month has passed since Salzburg, Austria, resorts last saw snow. Snow cannons in Chamonix, France, are currently inoperable due to a lack of water.
Instead of trying to compete with ski resorts in the winter, some Swiss destinations have opened up their summer bicycle routes. Others have taken the simpler route of permanently closing their ski lifts.
It’s January, so this weather shouldn’t come as a shock, according to climate experts. They have been warning for a long time that global warming will lead to warmer and wetter winters. The decline of Alpine glaciers has already rendered several ski areas economically unsustainable, and this trend appears to be hastening.
Several years ago, experts warned Swiss resorts that rising global temperatures would eventually make skiing below 1,000 meters (m) untenable. The resort town of Splügen, located at an elevation of 1,500 meters (or high enough to be “snow safe”), closed this week.
The director of the ski lifts in Splügen, a town in Switzerland, Hacher Bernet, gave a vivid explanation to Swiss journalists of the reasoning behind his tough decision.
He reached down to the slope and picked up a chunk of snow, holding it up: not light and fluffy, but rather a clump of slushy sludge.
“It’s a lot like springtime in that it’s just too rainy to enjoy. If you want to go skiing, you need snow that will stay together, and there’s much too much water in this for that to happen.”
More and more snow cannons are being used to keep the top resorts open for the time being.
That consumes a lot of water, which is a problem considering Switzerland has been conserving water all winter to ensure they have enough hydropower to make up for the gas power shortages brought on by the conflict in Ukraine.
A recent study from the University of Basel warns that in the long run, higher resorts will have to rely increasingly on artificial snow, increasing their water usage by up to 80%. The winter sports business and villages that rely on hydropower for their energy needs could have a falling out as a result of this.
Costs will skyrocket, the study warns, as ski areas turn to increasingly artificial means of maintaining their slopes. It is predicted that by the end of this century, skiing if it is still a sport at all, would be enjoyed only by the wealthy.
This has led to widespread panic in the Alps. Ski towns have been hoping for better times after two years of lower revenue due to the pandemic.
European schools take a “ski week” break in the months of February and March. Expected skier numbers in the tens of thousands from families around the country. There must be a case of Snow shortage.
The outlook, though, calls for further warmth and rain.