Climate Change Wreaks Havoc with Ski Season

January 15, 2014 by  
Filed under features

Canadian ski resorts are enjoying excellent snowfall this season, attracting a host of snow sport enthusiasts from Europe, as many European resorts experienced a slow start to the season. Many resorts in North America have been enjoying extensive snowfall, with the Polar Vortex keeping temperatures low, much to the delight of skiers. The fact that the English Pound/Canadian Dollar is very much in favor of travelers from Britain is quoted as another factor in the spike in bookings at Canadian resorts.

But as long-time skiers will tell you, snow conditions can change very quickly, and this was the case at Mad River Glen in Waitsfield, VT. The area started off with good snowfall in December, but in recent days rain has washed the remaining snowfall off the slopes. The Vermont Ski Areas Association confirmed that there have been more closed trails in the area this January than last. With minimal snowmaking equipment and communities who depend on snow to make a living, everyone is hoping some ‘white gold’ will fall.

Warm weather and poor snowfall have caused Garmisch-Partenkirchen in the Bavarian Alps to cancel a race which forms part of the Alpine Ski World Championships which were scheduled for the last weekend in January. Although the area has extensive snowmaking facilities, the weather has been too warm to even attempt to keep the slopes covered. German economic geography professor, Jürgen Schmude, is of the opinion that changes in the weather could drastically impact Germany’s ski industry as skiers head east in search of more snow. He predicts that by the year 2050 it is very likely that only Germany‘s highest mountain, the Zugspitze, will have snow for skiing. Whether this bleak prediction will become a reality remains to be seen, but in the meantime communities who rely on ski tourism to make a living watch the weather anxiously and skiers chase the snow wherever it leads them.