Snow on the way to European mountains after warm weather leaves slopes barren

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ignificant snowfall of up to 60cm could be hitting French mountains this weekend after a barren period has left skiiers facing green fields.

Snowless terrain in the Alps and Pyrenees has seen skiiers either head for pastures new or have a go at other activities, such as horse riding or mountain biking.

Monzrine and Les Gets were both bare, and La Clusaz only having only 13 runs reportedly open.

In France, only Puy St Vincent has reported more than 2m of snow on top and has 95 per cent of its runs open.

There is a similar situation reported in Austria and Switzerland, although Italy’s Dolomites have been the least affected of the major ranges in central and southern Europe.

Before the turn of the year, December temperatures had provided snow fall to give resorts a positive end to 2022. But since then, France has experienced its warmest winter weather since 1997 and eight other European countries have clocked record highs for the first week of January. Rain has also played a part in snow melting.

Snow cannons operate due to lack of snow at the Peyragudes ski resort, southwestern France

/ AFP via Getty Images

The Swiss Alps have seen temperatures that locals have commented are closer to what might be expected in June. The Splügen-Tambo resort closed on Monday with the message: “Due to the lack of snow, the heavy rainfall and high temperatures, we have to close our ski resort until further notice. It is no longer possible for us to prepare the slopes because we have too much water . . . and the snow does not freeze at night.”

Fraser Wilkin, of Alpine tour operator Snow Wise, told the i: “Things are looking pretty desperate in lower altitude northwestern resorts such as Morzine, Megève, La Clusaz, Villars and Gstaad.”

People ski on the remaining snow at the Luchon-Superbagneres ski resort, southwestern France

/ AFP via Getty Images

France, though, is set to be the biggest beneficiary of a glut of snow set to fall in the coming days. Around 30-60cm has been forecast for the mountains.

In Austria, where snow has been preserved to form thin trails on otherwise barren hillsides, around 10-30cm of snow has been forecast – with colder conditions on their way. And while Italy is the least in need, it will benefit from an extra helping of around 20-40cm this weekend, while up to 55cm could fall in Switzerland.

The FIS women’s slalom was cancelled in Croatia due to poor conditions


North America and Scandinavia

Mountains in US and Canada have been hit with a totally different problem – temperatures that are too cold. The well-reported bomb cyclone effect has brought freezing temperatures to parts of North America, which havve wrecked havoc with transport and led to dozens of deaths.

People skiing on a slope in Filzmoos south of Salzburg, Austria

/ AP

On the skiing front, hillsides in western Canada have had consistently ski-friendly conditions but temperatures in the -30Cs have seen runs closed for safety reasons. It is a similar story in the US, where western ranges have been closed due to the cold and eastern US hills have been shut due to warm weather. However, the situation is likely to improve in weeks to come.

Scandinavia, it seems, has the best and whitest situation – with up to 90cm in Norway, Finland, and Sweden. And more snow has been forecast for the week ahead.

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