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France - snow cannons may be switched off

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From The Daily Telegraph / The Times

Quote:
Thousands of British holidaymakers are facing the possibility of ruined skiing holidays due to a drought of snow - and rain - in the French Alps.

Snow cannons will apparently be switched off at more than 50 resorts across the Haute-Savoie region this weekend, unless there is significant snow or rainfall this week.

"We are in a situation of drought to the point that without snow or rain by the end of [this] week I will be forced to make a drought stoppage. In January!" Pierre Lambert, the head of the Haute-Savoie regional government, told The Times.

The order would ban resorts using water from the mains network for the snow cannons, which have been in full use over Christmas and New Year.


Never believe everything you read in the papers, but this is a little concerning.
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cant see it mentioned in the dauphine anywhere Confused
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Not an issue as a large dump is currently forecast for that area over next 3 days
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The reservoirs used for the snow cannons must be getting pretty low now in some places.
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http://www.20minutes.fr/lyon/1990987-20170106-alpes-ouverture-partielle-stations-ski-solution-urgence-face-manque-neige
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Hmmm,

Quote:

The order would ban resorts using water from the mains network for the snow cannons


I heard or read somewhere that some resorts have been using the mains as their reservoirs are depleted - but 50 of them? Also sceptical that any news source would have a list of resorts actually doing that. A quick google for 'ski resorts Haute Savoie' brings up a list of 36 resorts (from On The Snow), so presumably some lazy Telegraph journo has gone 'that's about 50 then' and stuck it in the article as 'fact'
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Was in morzine yesterday, noticed a reservoir and it was pretty much drained entirely, lots of pistes still closed, quite a bit more open up in avoriaz. Thin cover everywhere though, if the forecast snow comes next week, will all be fine. I still had a great time there this weekend!
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@foxtrotzulu, um...in the 1990s it was identified that water shortages in the French and Swiss Alps was a structural problem (eg https://earthzine.org/2011/12/13/water-management-strategies-against-water-scarcity-in-the-alps-the-project-alp-water-scarce-2/) so even if slightly distorted in the popular press this is a known structural problem - very real and very pressing. There is a shortage of water in the Alps, and at a time when human demand is increasing. Artificial looks less and less viable, really.
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@MountainIdiot, according to one local they've been running in Avoriaz as it probably won't need for later in season whereas Pleney likely to.
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Its not the first time this has happened, I was discussing it yesterday on the Tignes thread - luckily we have a couple of large lakes in the E-K and it doesn't seem to be a problem.
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There is a 3 day snowstorm forecast from Friday 13th! Plus snowfall tomorrow from 10:00am for Savoie...

This from France Meteo who are normally quite conservative
http://www.meteofrance.com/previsions-meteo-france/macot-la-plagne/73210
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valais2 wrote:
@foxtrotzulu, um...in the 1990s it was identified that water shortages in the French and Swiss Alps was a structural problem (eg https://earthzine.org/2011/12/13/water-management-strategies-against-water-scarcity-in-the-alps-the-project-alp-water-scarce-2/) so even if slightly distorted in the popular press this is a known structural problem - very real and very pressing. There is a shortage of water in the Alps, and at a time when human demand is increasing. Artificial looks less and less viable, really.


Interesting. You'd think that artifical snow was generally a positive thing for water consumption. It's only when water from outside the catchment area is pumped in that it might cause problems. Otherwise, surely the reservoirs they build (and the snow they create) are only holding water back from disappearing down the rivers. In good years the reservoirs might be a useful way of storing water for wider use.
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Haute Savoie does desperately need snow,
but I believe that snow canons should be turned off. In fact there over use of electricity and water only adds to the problem of a changing environment.

Brits holidays ruined? Yes, but people need to learn that snow is now not gauraneteed anytime of the year. Skiing holidays are becoming a much more fickle type of holiday. It's a shame for sure, but the world environment is changing and we only have our selfs to blame as humans.

Resorts around here are working hard to get ski de fond and ski pistes ready by blasting snow canons for days and days and then using piste bully's to push and sculpt ribbons of slope is crazyness. Why not spend one month building a descent green graded family mountain bike trail and one jumpy flow trail for the experts. Why not spend time sign posting footpaths for mountain bikers. Why not encourage people to go hiking on the many wonderful paths around the lower mountains. Why to construct more via ferreta's and via corda routes for family's of varying ability too do.

SLF.ch says the average snow level will go up 300 metres by 2020 so low areas of ski resorts are doomed. What else can they do other than wasting recourses?

Here's a controversial one, why not encourage people to come at a different time of year?

Yes there will be good winters, fewer of them, be ready to make the most of them.
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Surely global warming causes more moisture in the atmosphere and precipitation and higher precipiitatiiion in cooler regions .Perhaps considering the economic benefits of skiing to local economies and the tax burden that skiers tend to bare, more reservoirs should be planned.Lets enjoy our skiing whilst we still can.
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OliC wrote:
..... the world environment is changing and we only have our selfs to blame as humans.


And that's an absolute fact, is it?
Or do you work for the BBC?
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@OliC,
Quote:

Why not spend one month building a descent green graded family mountain bike trail and one jumpy flow trail for the experts. Why not spend time sign posting footpaths for mountain bikers. Why not encourage people to go hiking on the many wonderful paths around the lower mountains. Why to construct more via ferreta's and via corda routes for family's of varying ability too do.
I think you'll find they are doing all that, and have been for decades.


Quote:

Here's a controversial one, why not encourage people to come at a different time of year?
Blimey!! That's an outstanding idea. I can't believe nobody has ever thought of that before. You should write and suggest it.
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OliC wrote:
Why not spend one month building a descent green graded family mountain bike trail and one jumpy flow trail for the experts. Why not spend time sign posting footpaths for mountain bikers. Why not encourage people to go hiking on the many wonderful paths around the lower mountains. Why to construct more via ferreta's and via corda routes for family's of varying ability too do.

SLF.ch says the average snow level will go up 300 metres by 2020 so low areas of ski resorts are doomed. What else can they do other than wasting recourses?



Some would say, why not do those kind of activities in the winter in the Canaries or in the Alps in June-September?

Can you provide a link to the slf.ch reference? Whilst I don't think anyone doubts that global warming has a profound effect on mountain environments, 300m seems a lot in 3 years.
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foxtrotzulu wrote:
Quote:

Here's a controversial one, why not encourage people to come at a different time of year?
Blimey!! That's an outstanding idea. I can't believe nobody has ever thought of that before. You should write and suggest it.


Now, that's just being unkind. Toofy Grin
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OliC wrote:
Haute Savoie does desperately need snow,
but I believe that snow canons should be turned off. In fact there over use of electricity and water only adds to the problem of a changing environment.

Brits holidays ruined? Yes, but people need to learn that snow is now not gauraneteed anytime of the year. Skiing holidays are becoming a much more fickle type of holiday. It's a shame for sure, but the world environment is changing and we only have our selfs to blame as humans.

Resorts around here are working hard to get ski de fond and ski pistes ready by blasting snow canons for days and days and then using piste bully's to push and sculpt ribbons of slope is crazyness. Why not spend one month building a descent green graded family mountain bike trail and one jumpy flow trail for the experts. Why not spend time sign posting footpaths for mountain bikers. Why not encourage people to go hiking on the many wonderful paths around the lower mountains. Why to construct more via ferreta's and via corda routes for family's of varying ability too do.

SLF.ch says the average snow level will go up 300 metres by 2020 so low areas of ski resorts are doomed. What else can they do other than wasting recourses?

Here's a controversial one, why not encourage people to come at a different time of year?

Yes there will be good winters, fewer of them, be ready to make the most of them.




Espace Killy is entirely self sufficient in water and in electricity. The Chevril dam is a hydro electric plant that runs Val and Tignes and also contributes to the national grid. The snow cannons use some of the massive volume of water that the Lac Chevril holds and when that snow melts, it flows back into the lac. I'm only familiar with the local area, but am sure this resort is not alone.

The electricity needed to run snow cannons in France does not add to the problem as France is predominately sustained by nuclear power production... with zero emissions. The rest comes from hydro and very little comes from fossil fuel power stations.

I think we should all 'do our bit' but if you want to lecture us on what we should and should not be doing on the mountains, please do so with facts.
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While this season (so far) has been particularly dry in the Alps, I don't think it's been particularly warm. It's not obviously attributable to global warming (manmade or otherwise) - which, as was pointed out above, should make the world wetter (as well as warmer) on average (all that ice from the polar regions has to go somewhere).
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foxtrotzulu wrote:

Here's a controversial one, why not encourage people to come at a different time of year?
Blimey!! That's an outstanding idea. I can't believe nobody has ever thought of that before. You should write and suggest it.[/quote]

A bit unkind - The industry ( being resorts and TOs etc) are absolutely complicit with the idea of marketing "White Christmas" etc etc. How much more realistic to say we'll open at Xmas if we have enough snow but its not guaranteed and put a greater push into getting people out for spring skiing in March and April? It's obviously difficult because the bulk of the money is made over 6 weeks of the season being Xmas, NY, 2-3 weeks in Feb and maybe Easter if its early enough but it seems like poor snow will end up changing habits at Xmas anyway (+ those that do go seem to be recognising that they are taking a bit of a gamble)
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Yes i would imagine that trend Is already happening, at least in the western alps after two particularly poor Christmas and New year periods.
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So 7 year old crap journalist makes up story with no evidence , using phrases such as maybe, some resorts and it's a story worth yourtime and in put.
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Norrin Radd wrote:
So 7 year old crap journalist makes up story with no evidence , using phrases such as maybe, some resorts and it's a story worth yourtime and in put.


I think the journo has a quote from a named authority, so it could be a story, if it weren't for the forecast of rain/snow from tomorrow until the weekend in Haute Savoie.
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The lake just along the road from our chalet here in .Les Gets is used for snow cannon. There is still water running into the lake from up the mountain.
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Norrin Radd wrote:
So 7 year old crap journalist makes up story with no evidence , using phrases such as maybe, some resorts and it's a story worth yourtime and in put.


That's a bit harsh. Why do you think there is no evidence? (I've linked to it later) Do you realy think the wditor would give space on the page for a full list of HS resorts? Maybe Pierre Lambert didn't list the resorts (he didn't actually). Which parts of the article do you think are incorrect/inaccurate?
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@snoozeboy, If it's just rain, then it's hardly going to replenish the reservoirs in just a day or two.
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Steve Angus has reported that this is deffo happening in EK (see his EK updates over in The View from Espace Killy thread.

Quote:
In local news the local prefecture of the Savoie are currently decreeing that no more snow making can take place after this weekend as the water levels are being disturbed so much by the demand for water to make snow with and besides the energy consumption to make artificial snow is not very good for the environment. Many snow making reservoirs are running very low. Although there is snow forecast supplies are very low so I dont think we are going to be seeing much more snowmaking for a while!
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@foxtrotzulu, where does it mention snow cannons in that link? As far as I can see it is all about the economic effect of the current snow situation and particularly on seasonal workers.
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foxtrotzulu wrote:
@snoozeboy, If it's just rain, then it's hardly going to replenish the reservoirs in just a day or two.


It snowed 10cm in Chatel on Saturday, it's snowing today and forecast to continue on and off through the end of the week. Forecasting models disagree on how much will fall so we'll see. My point is not the extent of the drought, but that the story and main quote, "We are in a situation of drought to the point that without snow or rain by the end of [this] week I will be forced to make a drought stoppage", is rather less sensational given the forecast and even the possibility that it was snowing in HS when the journo was filing this story.
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So is it only Brits who go skiing?! Surely people from other countries may have their holidays ruined (Which they won't as it's dumping...)...
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Claude B wrote:
@foxtrotzulu, where does it mention snow cannons in that link? As far as I can see it is all about the economic effect of the current snow situation and particularly on seasonal workers.

Apologies, the actual 'evidence' is elsewhere. The direct quote of Pierre Lambert in The Times was "“We are in a situation of drought to the point that without snow or rain by the end of [this] week I will be forced to make a drought stoppage. In January!” The 'stoppage' in question refers back to the use of mains water for snow-making activities. I would have thought this was sufficient evidence for a newspaper article, wouldn't you?
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Dunno, it was good french practise though Wink I dont trust UK journos tbh. This link is probably more relevant but i'd need to listen several times Shocked

http://france3-regions.francetvinfo.fr/alpes/haute-savoie/secheresse-haute-savoie-vers-des-restrictions-eau-inedites-plein-hiver-1167853.html
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Red Leon wrote:
OliC wrote:
..... the world environment is changing and we only have our selfs to blame as humans.


And that's an absolute fact, is it?
Or do you work for the BBC?


And I also eat ice-cream. Does that make me a homosexual?
I don't work the BBC. I am a mountain proffessional who loves the mountains and have seen how the mountains are changing. Yes perhaps the planet is heading towards a mini ice age, but you can not in this modern age argue that since the industrial revolution that man has not had an effect on the planet for the negative. We are here talking about snowfall being effected for another bad beginning of season. How many years now has the main weather thread featured panicked people looking for snow. Things are changing, whether natural or man made.


Many ski stations have done a terrible job of promoting mountain biking. The Portes de Soleil has high level trails for skilled riders, very little for beginners. Les Carroz spent a lot of money building a long and easy green trail. Ideal. Le Tour in chamonix put in a green trail last year, but unfortunately until next year the bottom lift is still an inefficient way to transport bikes. Les Houches has one trail. Les Contamines has, one trail. St Gervais and Megeve are doing quite a good job of building trails, but nobody really knows about it. Megeve crowd are not really ones for getting muddy in the summer. The Beafurotain is very good for high quality riders, but luckily its still undiscovered. Paradi-ski has some easy trails over a large area, but the main bike park in Les Arcs is still aimed at a higher caliber rider. The main problem with all these places is the short season. Often July and August only. The "summer" is now potentially longer so why not open for longer. Oh yeah, its difficult to employ people in France.

Tignes is doing a fantastic job of getting people up there in the summer with their free lift pass scheme. The trails are a bit naff, but people are having a good time so what does it matter. Again the problem is the short season.

Verbier are very proactive at having their lifts open for either biking or skiing as long as possible year round. The problem there is that the bike park is really hardcore.

And as far as I know this story is the same for most ski stations as you head south.



Regarding electricity. France gets 14% of their powder from hydro (a friends girlfriend worked for EDF this summer between uni) and as stated the rest is nuclear. Does this mean though that we can still use electricity as we want? I believe not, everyone should be trying to conserve where possible. Every little helps in every situation. The same for water. IT looks like Tignes / Bourg St Maurice is feeling the problem.

Again, why is it ok to made artificial snow for those people so desperate to ski at the wrong time of the season? Learn to love a different sport and wonderful mountain environment.


And why shouldn't we encourage people to come at a different time of year? Please give me a good answer rather than just knocking me down? I know it will never happen, but in an 'ideal world' people wouldn't come when there is no snow. As Dave of the Marmottes points out the industry needs its money from these classic times of the year. Why not change so that the industry was not reliant on Xmas and February? More reliant on August perhaps?
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@OliC, I think you'll find it will take some inventive thinking and more energy to make snow in August than January, or was this intended for Mountainbikeheads.com?
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Red Leon wrote:
OliC wrote:
..... the world environment is changing and we only have our selfs to blame as humans.


And that's an absolute fact, is it?
Or do you work for the BBC?


Maybe not fact, but at least scientific consensus that climate warming is extremely likely caused/accelerated by human activities.
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I remember, a fair few years ago, when we had a bit of a 'drought' in the summer. This followed a dryish autumn, winter and spring.

A hosepipe ban was introduced in Essex, as is usual, and Prince Charles came on the telly. I remember the speech well. He exhorted how there was a permanent change in the climate and that we were all going to have to stop flushing the toilets and share baths and treat water like a precious commodity.

Just as the fool was speaking it started raining on the tent he was in and the rain became a deluge and it seems to have rained ever since. Everyone has forgotten the need to treat water as a precious commodity, other than the utilities who make oodles of cash from it.

Just as I read this thread I flicked over to see snowforecast for Val Thorens knowing that this thread would signal the return of the snow. Which it has.

Smile

To be fair to the original poster though even resorts like the 3vs, where they have built reservoirs and complex facilities for managing the river water (between les menuires and St Martin) from speaking to people in Val Thorens I was told that it was only really designed to have sufficient reserves of water for snow making to really make snow up to and through xmas / new year in full blast mode. It's best use is as regular top up of pistes where there is short term lack of snow.


Last edited by Then you can post your own questions or snow reports... on Tue 10-01-17 20:43; edited 1 time in total
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Red Leon wrote:
OliC wrote:
..... the world environment is changing and we only have our selfs to blame as humans.


And that's an absolute fact, is it?
Or do you work for the BBC?


Maybe not fact, but at least scientific consensus that climate warming is extremely likely caused/accelerated by human activities.
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Quote:

The Beafurotain is very good for high quality riders, but luckily its still undiscovered. Paradi-ski has some easy trails over a large area, but the main bike park in Les Arcs is still aimed at a higher caliber rider. The main problem with all these places is the short season. Often July and August only. The "summer" is now potentially longer so why not open for longer. Oh yeah, its difficult to employ people in France.

Skiing in Les Arcs in April you will often be joined by VTT riders in the funicular. It feels a bit weird.
The reason the ski lifts do not open in June and September is because there would be too few, if any customers. Children, students and teachers will all be hard at work and dreaming
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@OliC, I do believe you are justified to worry about the shifting seasons, but I am personally not sure what the answer is especially in the short term, but seeing that this discussion is on a forum dedicated to "snowheads" I doubt many of us are willing to give up without a fight!!!

I have recently returned from an xmas trip with my family and if it was not for the investment in snowmaking facilities, I am sure we would not have had any slope time at all.

unfortunately due to having school age children (and will be for the next 10 years) we are constrained to when we can go. for several reasons we gambled on xmas this year in the vain hope of law of averages coming into play and it being a bumper year!!

The chalet we stayed in, was owned by a local family whose alpine farm was adjacent to the property, Sandra (the owner) told us that they have not had snow in the zillertal valley at xmas since 2011, but when it does arrive it has been lasting longer in to the spring and this has been causing problems with their cattle.

obviously we can only hope that all the advances in renewable technology can at least go some way in slowing down climate change, as I must admit that I do worry that my girls will not be able to ski in to their middle ages.

I am sure there is a summer holiday market in the mountains, but I would suggest not to the extent that skiing brings then I presume the tourist economy in the alps would crash.
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