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Ski resorts in Europe forced to close early due to lack of snow

It wasn't the white Christmas ski resort operators and winter sports enthusiasts hoped for.

A winter heat wave across the continent accompanied by rain has seen ski runs and lifts closed just a few weeks after this winter season started. Instead of fresh powder,

ski slopes are covered with mud and grass, especially in low-altitude resorts in France and Switzerland.

It's a big blow to those who hoped this winter would kick-start the recovery from

the coronavirus pandemic. And at the same time another example of how the climate crisis affects tourism.

Fortunately, there is a good news to share. Snow is expected in the French and Swiss Alps already this weekend. Also in Italy and Austria, temperatures should drop in Italy and Austria, allowing the snow cannons to be fired back up.

Here is a summary of current ski conditions across Europe:


According to Domaines Skiables de France, on Thursday, January 5, only 45 percent

of ski slopes in the country were open. The areas most affected by warming are

the Pyrenees, the Jura Mountains and the Northern Alps.

On New Year's Eve, the Ax 3 Domaines site near Andorra closed completely. According to the French radio station France Bleu, not a single snowflake had fallen here since December 18.

In the Alps, resort located at lower altitudes (especially Les Gets and Morzine) - were particularly affected by the heat wave, while high-altitude resorts such as Tignes,

Val Thorens, Les Arcs, La Plagne and Val d'Isère report good conditions and uninterrupted traffic. The situation is good in the Southern Alps as well. Serre Chevalier, the largest ski area in the region, reporting snow depths of up to 1.7 meters.


Temperature records were set in Switzerland at the turn of the year. Large centers are still open (only Splügen-Tambo in the south of the country temporary closed), but

the operations are limited. In Gstaad, only sixteen out of the total number of seventy pistes were open on Thursday, January 5. The situation is slightly better in Zermatt and Verbier.


According to Holger Gassler from the Tirol Tourist Board, the situation is challenging, but all major ski areas in the Austrian Tyrol are open - including popular resorts such as

St. Anton am Arlberg and Ischgl. "Most of the slopes are open, with good conditions at higher altitudes. However, thanks to good snowmaking, it is possible to ski even in lower positions," said Gassler.


Italian resorts are also better off than those in France and Switzerland. Courmayeur, at the southern foot of Mont Blanc, has significantly better snow conditions than the northern side of the massif.

Almost all slopes are open in the Dolomiti Superski area, but two weeks of unusually high temperatures have taken their toll. In many places the snow is soft and wet. Therefore, like other resorts, Dolomiti Superski is looking forward to lower temperatures forecasted for next days to come.


Lonely Planet: Ski slopes in Europe forced to close early - here's where travelers are impacted (8.1.2023)


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