Highest temperatures in 130 years threaten Italy’s ski season, while heavy rain is expected to affect runs in the French Alps over the next few days.
Italy’s northern Piedmont region recorded its warmest December since the 1890s after its hottest autumn in centuries, with some winter resorts forced to close due to lack of snow.
Bardonecchia, a popular family resort near the French border, has been severely affected by high pressure, with temperatures reaching 16 degrees Celsius in December.
“This time last year, four more slopes were opened,” Enrico Rossi, director of the ski lift company Colomion and vice president of the Bardonecchia tourist association, told Corriere della Sera newspaper.
“We have prioritized beginner slopes and created artificial snow. We are postponing the opening of the least crowded and most difficult events.”
The forced closures came amid unseasonably mild weather across the region. On December 22nd, Turin recorded a temperature of 21.6°C, while other towns in Piedmont saw temperatures exceeding 25°C.
Meanwhile, heavy rain in France delayed the start of the ski season in Morzine and Les Gets, with temperatures slightly above average for this time of year.
Light snow has fallen in the French Alps in recent days, but this is expected to be washed away by further rain in the coming days.
Luca Mercari, president of the Italian Meteorological Association, blamed global warming for the dramatic rise in temperatures and warned that the outlook for the Alps was bleak.
“It is not surprising to me that there is less snow in the Alps this December, as a decreasing trend in snow cover and snow cover duration has been observed for 30 years,” Mercari told the Telegraph.
“In the days before Christmas, we had to go almost 3,000 meters to find zero degrees Celsius [9,900ft] And this is the temperature we typically see at the end of summer,” he added.
“Continued increases in temperature due to global warming will lead to even fewer winters in the future, with more rain and less snow, even at high altitudes.”
Resorts such as Terminillo and Ovindoli in the Apennines outside Rome also complained that operators were forced to close their slopes due to insufficient snow cover, despite being busy with Christmas bookings. Ta.
On Wednesday, none of Ovindoli’s 21 slopes were open, and Terminillo’s ski school announced that lessons could not be held due to poor snow cover.
“Compared to the last two years, business is down 50 percent,” Michele Land of Rivata Excursions told La Repubblica.
He said he was offering trekking, horseback riding and cycling as alternatives to disappointed skiers.
Italy’s largest agricultural organization Coldiretti expressed concern about the impact of above-average temperatures on the country’s agriculture and tourism industries.
The group, which represents 1.5 million farmers and producers, said reduced snowfall after record high temperatures throughout 2023 heightened concerns about drought risk.