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Early heavy snowfall boosts Europe's ski resorts

By JONATHAN POWELL in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-11-15 09:31

Skiers go to use a gondola lift on Rettenbachferner glacier near the ski resort of Soelden, Austria, Octo 27, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

The ski season in Europe will get underway early this year after some locations experienced bumper snowfall, following a period of unseasonably warm weather in October.

The Alps mountain range has been blanketed with heavy snowfall in the first weeks of November, with some slopes already reporting over a meter of fresh powder and more in the forecast.

The exceptional conditions, leading several resorts in France, Austria, Italy and Switzerland to open their lifts and slopes earlier than usual, have sparked a surge in bookings for the upcoming ski season, Euronews reported.

Holiday company Ski Solutions said up to 50 centimeters of snow is forecast in Alpine destinations, including Chamonix, Crans-Montana, La Plagne and Saint Anton.

"Storms have been piling into the Alps for the last two weeks, with snow accumulations of more than 100 cm quite widespread now on the upper slopes," Ski Solutions' managing director Ian McIlrath told trade news publisher Travel Weekly.

"This will ensure a solid base for the winter ahead, and with a lot more snow in the forecast, it's shaping up to be one of the best starts to the winter ski season that I can remember."

The substantial snowfall has brought much-needed relief to Europe's ski resorts, and counters the impacts of a warming climate that has previously forced some lower-altitude ski centers to close due to insufficient snow.

United Kingdom-based tour operator Jet2 has reported an "explosion" in demand for ski packages following what it described as last year's disappointing November and December.

Ski resorts that are capitalizing on the early snowfall by opening their slopes earlier than originally scheduled include Tignes in France, Kitzbuhel in Austria and Madonna di Campiglio in Italy.

Switzerland has already welcomed skiers to nine areas, including popular destinations such as Davos, Zermatt and Verbier, with the latter opening three weeks ahead of schedule.

The impact of the El Nino climate pattern on Europe's temperatures and weather provides hope for ski resorts of a winter with increased snowfall, as it is often associated with colder winters and a greater chance of snow due to its influence on the jet stream and Atlantic storm track, The Daily Mirror newspaper reported.

More skiers are opting to travel to resorts by train this year, with a survey by the Ski Club of Great Britain revealing a significant increase from 2 percent in 2022 to 12 percent of respondents planning to use the railways this winter, possibly influenced by Eurostar's expanded ski service.

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