After a good covering of snow following a cold snap in early December 2022, the snow gods went on strike. Since then very little snow has fallen in the Alps.
In addition, word has spread fast via social media, something that could have an impact on resort tourist numbers. A report by RTS, discusses the concerns of Swiss tourism representatives. One Tik Tok video showing skiers walking on a muddy sliver of snow at Wengen has been viewed more than 700,000 times.
However, there is no denying reality. Even at high altitude resorts such as Verbier, which rises above 3,000 m in places, conditions are marginal. Rocky slopes require a minimum snow depth to cover the rocks. At Verbier, rocky runs below 1,800m beyond the pistes are difficult to navigate and almost guaranteed to damage skis. Those content with piste skiing will probably enjoy themselves. But those hoping to explore the resort’s off-piste trails are unlikely to have much fun.
At many lower resorts, skiing in many areas has been reduced to strips of manmade snow with grassy borders.
An article published by the BBC, shows piles of manmade snow on the grass at the Swiss resort of Adelboden where the Skiing World Cup is being held. The 1,350 m resort in the Bernese Oberland has been melting as unseasonally warm temperatures strike Europe. Another BBC report shows stationery lifts and grassy slopes at the Porte de Soleil resort of Torgon, which starts at 1,085 m above sea level.
Other videos show resorts with snow (an earlier season) and without snow (now). The Tik Tok below shows Villars recently.
And this video shows Crans-Montana a few days ago.
Fortunately it appears that snow could be on the way. Some weather services are forecasting significant snow on Sunday and Monday. Fingers crossed it will deliver enough snow to build a snow base that will allow the 2022/23 ski season to get properly underway.
At the same time there is no denying the impact of climate change. Many Swiss resorts are already planning for life without snow. Climate scientist Reto Knutti at the university ETH Zurich estimates that average temperatures will rise by 3 degrees between now and 2080 under the current rules, according to Blick.
In addition to rising average temperatures, temperature volatility is a challenge. One week it’s unusually cold, the next it’s unseasonally warm. This volatility is a snow killer. Fresh dry powder snow quickly turns bad when temperatures move sharply higher. In the past, good snow stayed around for longer. These days its longevity can be fleeting. Successfully pulling off a powder ski holiday is fast becoming a roll of the dice.