Unprecedented warm weather across Europe has thawed the snow on ski slopes and forced ski resorts to close. For instance, French resorts near Mont-Blanc have had to cancel the World Cup telemark ski race. Some ski destinations have had to resort to artificial snow. This is happening during the busiest time of year for skiing, when resorts rely on visitors to keep them open during the rest of the year.
Since the majority of the snow had melted from the slopes, many ski resorts in France and Switzerland have announced that they would be closed. Among the countries affected by the winter heatwave are Denmark, France, Germany, Poland, Spain, and Switzerland which have recorded their warmest January days on record, with temperatures climbing to 21 degrees Celsius.
This weekend, Adelboden, a ski resort in Switzerland, will host a World Cup competition on its famed Chuenisbärgli course. According to the resort, practically all of this year's race will be run on artificial snow, with temperatures over freezing even at elevations of 2,000 metres (6,500ft).
Unseasonable heat brought on by a warm air mass from Africa and a La Nia event that was reducing ocean temperatures and generating weather extremes were two of the causes of the unseasonal warm weather, which otherwise would have come in June
The Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research cautions that at the turn of the century, only resorts over 2,500 metres will receive enough natural snow to remain in operation.
Even in Davos, Switzerland, where the World Economic Forum's annual conference gets underway on January 16, the lower slopes still have little snow cover.