Mid-mountain resorts hit hard by snow drought

There is a generalized lack of snow below 2500 meters in the French mountain ranges with almost no snow in the Vosges and Massif Central and very little snow on the summits of the Jura. All the ski resorts in these areas are currently closed. Forty mid-mountain ski resorts are also closed in the Alps, notably in the Vercors and Chartreuse. The cross country ski race in the Chartreuse, la Foulée Blanche, has had to be cancelled. While worrying this close to the all important February holiday period, representing two-thirds of turnover for a ski resort, the situation is not unknown with the winters of 89-90, 94-95 and 96-97 experiencing similar snow droughts.

snow drought in the Vercors

It is a contrasting situation. The last couple of weeks have not been without precipitation but with the zero isotherm between 2000 and 3000m it is the high alpine resorts, which represent three quarters of total turnover for France which have faired well: Tignes, Val d’Isère, Méribel, Courchevel, les Ménuires, la Plagne, les Arcs, l’Alpe d’Huez, les Deux Alpes (Isère), Avoriaz (Haute-Savoie), Serre-Chevalier, Mongenèvre (Hautes-Alpes) and Isola-2000 (Alpes-Maritimes) all have 70 to 90% of their ski areas open. Lower down the situation can be quite varied with pockets of snow cover, Valloire with the bottom of the ski runs at 1430 m and les Saises situated at 1650 meters both have 70% of their domains open for downhill skiing. The high temperatures in the first half of January have restricted the use of snow canons on lower slopes

Snow cover is very poor on the island of Corsica and over the Pyrénées where the first traces are only found from 1700 meters on northern slopes and above 2200 m on Southern Slopes. There has been little snow since the first week of December. Saint-Lary is typical of the bigger Pyrenean resorts. It has just 20% of its ski runs open. Over the whole mountain range snow cover is 50% below average. The situation in the Pyrenees is exceptional. Over the lastthirty years only the terrible winters of 89/90 and 90/91 were as bad. In Corsica these kind of conditions occur every five years. In the Savoie snow cover is 40% below average. The Meteo France monitoring station at the Col de Porte (1320m) in the Chartreuse range measures an average snow depth of 14cm, 20% of the average value. An event that has been seen just 5 times over the last 46 years.

The main cause for the poor snow conditions was a warm and dry autumn with the first snow only arriving at the start of December. In the Alps the high pressure kept temperatures low over Christmas, conserving snow and allowing snow making. There was a fall of new snow at the start of January over the Northern Alps but the very warm weather and rain to 2700m accelerated the thaw, especially below 2000m. Some relief is expected next week with cold weather from Monday and snow down to 1000m in the Alps. However the quantities are not expected to be sufficient to help the Vosges and Jura. Ski resorts have asked the government to suspend payments of VAT and Social Security contributions. Many seasonal workers have been laid off andpermanent staff have been asked to take leave.

Posted by davidof on Friday, 19 January, 2007 at 10:21 AM

the “Foulée Blanche” is taking place in Vercors not Chartreuse

Posted by BipBip38 on  Monday, 22 January, 2007  at 09:44 AM

Yes, thanks for the correction. It is at Autrans, of course. They did run some of the junior races on Saturday around a 2km circuit so all was not lost.

Posted by davidof on  Monday, 22 January, 2007  at 11:40 AM

Low snow cover is hoooorrible - it makes me want to cry. I’d miss my snowboarding too much.

Posted by Burton Fish on  Monday, 04 February, 2008  at 12:27 PM

I hope your bosses at News International are happy with you using their network to spam websites?

Posted by davidof on  Monday, 04 February, 2008  at 12:55 PM
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