Changing Weather Conditions Confront Open Ski Resorts

Posted By: The Ski Channel on September 15, 2011 1:09 pm

The lowest numbers of ski resorts north of the equator are open this year since the 1970′s, a mere six resorts in three countries – Switzerland, Austria, and Italy. Overall, rapidly changing weather conditions have greatly impeded the expansion of summer skiing in the northern hemisphere. In addition, the increase in temperature has affected prominent glacier areas, such as the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier of Kaprun, which requires steady amount of snowfall in order to remain a viable ski site. As a result, other sites have resorted to using machines to create snow in order to maintain the glaciers, such as in the Pitztal glacier of Austria. With the help of man-made snow, the glacier will open on September 24th.

If the conditions improve in the next month there could be 10 glacier sites opening, such as the French Tignes glacier, the Engelberg glacier, and the Les Diablerets glacier in Switzerland. The Austrian Stubai, Solden, Dachstein, Flattach, Molltal, and Tux glaciers will most likely open closer to October when cultural festivities are underway, in addition to the Italian Cervinia glacier.

Glaciers in Norway, Sweden, and Finland will also begin manufacturing snow as well, which hopefully will be enhanced by slowly dropping temperatures at the far northern latitudes.

In general, the snows in the most prominent resorts have been melting at an increasingly slowing rate. Saas Fee, which is one of the six resorts currently open, revealed a recent drop of 2cm of snow in comparison with a staggering 20-40cm of snow that thawed during mid-summer.

In the United States, Oregon will reopen soon after finishing up a period of scheduled maintenance. The Loveland and Keystone ski sites will also reopen, weather permitting, and also will most likely begin to manufacture snow to bolster the dwindling snowfall after this summers already steep decline. With the help of the snow machines these ski sites are targeted to open in late September or October.

On another note, the Southern Hemisphere has reported substantial and consistent snowfall this year, especially in Australia, which has continually topped the charts in snow depth. Australian ski resorts have reported 10cm of snow over the past two days with a base that frequently ranges from a vigorous 50-100cm of snow. Similarly, ski sites in South America, such as Argentina’s Catedral and Chile’s Portillo, have happily reported 240cm of snowfall in the former, 170cm in the latter, which looks like a successful spring ski seasons.