Skiers left disappointed as snow steers clear of Swiss slopes

As if last year wasn't bad enough, a lack of snow at Alpine ski resorts during the Christmas period has left some slopes completely bare.

Skiers left disappointed as snow steers clear of Swiss slopes
A lack of snow has left Swiss ski slopes bare again this season. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

And as temperatures rise to unseasonable highs, there is little sign of much snow falling before the end of the year.

Several resorts, including the popular Charmey, where no snow has fallen since December 19th, have closed due to the mild weather. The situation is much the same as the 2015 season, when snow didn't arrive until the middle of January.

Temperatures in the Ticino region hit 20.9 degrees Celsius on Christmas Day, the highest recorded in 40 years, according to Meteonews.

In Valais and Graubünden, which border Italy, temperatures reached between 12 and 15 degrees Celsius, while they were around nine degrees Celsius in the lower lying regions north of the Alps.

2016 has been one of the ten warmest since Swiss records began in 1864, MeteoSuisse reported on Friday.

As a whole the year was 0.6-0.7 degrees warmer than normal across Switzerland, the federal weather office said in its round-up of the year's weather, earning 2016 a place in the top ten mildest years on record.

Switzerland’s temperatures are in line with the global trend, with 2016 set to be the hottest year on record across the world,  the World Meteorological Organization said in November. 

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Weather: Switzerland prepares for ‘record-breaking’ hot summer

The hot weather of the past week makes us wonder what the summer months will be like in Switzerland. Will we walk around in shorts and flip-flops or thermal underwear and boots? Find out what the experts say.

Weather: Switzerland prepares for 'record-breaking' hot summer

It has been hot in much of Switzerland over the last few days, with temperatures exceeding 30 degrees in some parts of the country.  But this is just a ‘foretaste’ of what lies ahead.

While this week is expected to be a bit cooler — more seasonal lower 20s —forecasts for the summer months call for even more intense heat.

“It will be hotter than usual,” according to Thomas Buchel, head of SRF Meteo.

“New heat records are very likely. It would be surprising if it went in another direction”, he said.

While it is too early now to predict just how hot it will get, the temperatures in certain Swiss regions “could hit 40 degrees”, Buchel pointed out.

This is close to this century’s previous “hottest” summer on record — 41.5 degrees measured in Grono, Graubünden 2003.

Another meteorologist, Joshua Gehring from the official weather service MeteoSwiss, said hotter weather “is a direct consequence of climate change”.

Specifically, a phenomenon called “heat dome” is hovering over Europe. It is, according to Gehring, “a stagnant anticyclone that acts as a lid to accumulate and retain heat”.

READ MORE: Heatwave: Why is it so hot in Switzerland right now?

But the environment is not the only one that is “suffering”, as it were, from this phenomenon.

According to 20 Minutes, “nearly 400 million francs are lost each year in Switzerland due to the heatwave and the drop in productivity that it causes in companies. That’s twice as much as the seasonal flu”.

“What is ideal for swimming or barbecuing cripples the economy. When working outdoors, performance drops quickly at such high temperatures”.

The Federal Office of Meteorology (MeteoSwiss) confirmed the dangers of extremely high temperatures on humans and nature alike.

“Periods of hot weather place extreme stress on the human body and can endanger health. Among other things, they can trigger cardiovascular and respiratory conditions and impair mental and physical performance”, MeteoSwiss writes.

“A hot spell can also have adverse effects on nature and infrastructure. For example, bodies of water often heat up considerably, causing fish to die, while high temperatures can lead to buckling of road surfaces and deformation of railway tracks”.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard

So if you are a summer enthusiast and thrive in hot weather, you can look forward to sizzling temps.

But f you are more of a “cold” person, this article from April of this year may bring back fond memories:

Winter weather to continue in Switzerland this week