Snow is a No-show as Europe Feels Unseasonably Warm Winter

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Last Updated: January 08, 2023, 12:19 IST

People enjoy a warm and sunny autumn day on the beach of the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France, France October 27, 2022.      (REUTERS)

People get pleasure from a heat and sunny autumn day on the seaside of the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France, France October 27, 2022. (REUTERS)

Hundreds of climate stations throughout Europe have recorded all-time highest day by day temperatures for the months of December or January

Europe has seen “excessive” warm winter weather in recent days, experts have said, with 2023 already posting record temperatures for January across the region.

As temperatures rise globally because of human-caused climate change, scientists say heatwaves and spells of warmer-than-average weather are becoming more common throughout the year.

Mild weather has left many regions of Europe that would normally be blanketed in snow at this time of year bare, and winter sports resorts are fearing for the future. Many are using snow machines to make artificial pistes, leaving thin white lines snaking through otherwise green and brown landscapes.

In the Swiss village of Adelboden, organizers of Saturday’s ski World Cup race grappled with above-freezing temperatures to ensure athletes could compete in the popular event while spectators basked in the blazing sunshine.

People with their dogs enjoy the sun in front of the sea during unseasonably warm temperatures in Malaga, southern Spain, January 4, 2023.

Experts say this season’s lack of snow offers a glimpse of winters to come, as global temperatures keep rising due to human-caused climate change.

People enjoy the sun during unseasonably warm temperatures in Bilbao, Spain, January 4, 2023.

The impact is likely to be felt far beyond the regional tourist industry. Winter snow in European mountains such as the Alps is an important natural water store for parts of a continent that’s already suffering regular droughts the rest of the year.

Record High Temperatures

Record-high daily temperatures for this time of year have been beaten — at times obliterated — in recent days at hundreds of meteorological reading stations in at least 11 countries: Bosnia, Belarus, Belgium, Czechia, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland and Switzerland.

People enjoy a warm and sunny autumn day on the beach of the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France, France October 27, 2022.

Belarus, Belgium, Czechia, Latvia, Poland and the Netherlands set national record daily highs for a Dec. 31 or Jan. 1.

The U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization has long warned about the ill-effects of climate change, and say the last eight years have been the eight hottest on record. The fallout this winter hasn’t been limited to snowless slopes, where mid-range altitudes have been affected most of all: Weather officials and scientists say flora and fauna are feeling the impact too.

Bosnian Ski Resorts Suffer

The new year’s festivities are over in Bosnia, and visitors to the country’s winter resorts are packing to go home. Spring-like temperatures have left little or no snow on the mountains, and it’s unclear when the next visitors will arrive.

People ski on artificial ski slopes in the ski resort of St. Corona as unseasonably warm temperatures hit Austria, January 4, 2023. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger – RC2OJY9JC37X

The small Balkan country of 3.3 million is among several in Europe facing a ski season slump amid balmy climes that have swept much of the continent as 2023 begins. Along the slopes in Bjelasnica near Sarajevo on Wednesday, snow accumulation amounted to little more than several white patches on an otherwise grassy landscape of brown and green.

French winter sport events cancelled

Several winter sport events in France have been cancelled, postponed or moved because abnormally warm temperatures have stripped mountain slopes of their snow covering, organisers have said.

A person snowboards on an artificial ski slope in the ski resort of St. Corona as unseasonably warm temperatures hit Austria, January 4, 2023. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger – RC2NJY9YOOWW

Milder weather and rain since mid-December have melted the little snow already on France’s ski slopes, forcing many resorts to close in regions that depend on their income.

People ski on artificial ski slopes in the ski resort of St. Corona as unseasonably warm temperatures hit Austria, January 4, 2023. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger – RC2OJY90GBJ1

Only those at the highest altitudes in the French Alps have managed to keep most ski runs open. But, the problem is not limited to France.

The Alpine skiing World Cup season has been heavily hit by cancellations with events in the Italian, Austrian and Swiss Alps all wiped out by unsuitable weather.

(With inputs from agencies)

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