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Has the European ski season shifted?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@BMG, And yet "5 cm here, 10cm there" is just how it was the season before last. I remember looking back on the season (which got off to a poor start), and thinking that, taken as a whole, it had been relatively good, with regular top-ups and reasonably cool temperatures. The season before that there were only three big dumps all through the season.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
What will be will be, we are just as likely to see a thread in a few years time asking if the seasons are shifting forward again. We have had a run of late starts and festive ski holidaymakers panicking. At least part of the reason folks book then because they have had positive experiences of the same time in the recent past. Different folks like different conditions, I personally am much happier in cold temperatures and grippy snow and wouldn't dream of booking a holiday when that wasn't a reasonable possibility, others will be the very opposite of that preference.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Quote:

Its all very odd! Will we even have decent skiing in 20 years??


In my skiing experience, the worst years for snow were in the late 80s. Make of that what you will. I'd suggest it shows that you should be wary about extrapolation. I believe in global warming but I have no clues what that will do to precipitation patterns over the Alps.
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mountainaddict wrote:
Quote:
Ski seasons are shortening dramatically everywhere. Killlington, USA, has seen its season shrink 10-30% in the past 30-40 years. Chacaltaya, Bolivia, has completely 100% shut down, forever, because the glacier and snowfield melted away.Tignes, France, has seen its season shrink 10-20% in the past 20 years. Snowfall across the European Alps has declined 10-20% since the 1980s. 
The number of yearround skiable glaciers in the European Alps has collapsed -80% since the 1970s. Only snowmaking hides the problem and makes things feel better. The flood of data for shrinking ski seasons is overwhelming.
Good God! That's all unusually positive for Whitegold, Snowheads' resident Private Fraser......Let's face it, we're DOOOOOOOMED Laughing

Despite that, I've been skiing every year since 1988; always ski early season (Oct/Nov); late season (late April/early May); summer (June - September); 40-65 days per year - and have (touch wood wink) never had a snowless ski trip.... Very Happy



Of course, it is still possible (for now) to ski every year and every month somewhere in the world.

But the stats are indisputable and showing clear downtrends -- less snowfall and less skidays.

Killington, USA, used to open often Oct to Jun. Now, it struggles to open Dec to Apr.

Tignes, France, used to open all 365 days of the year. Now, it struggles to stay open for 300 days.

Val d'Isere, France, has seen its average annual snowfall decline -25% in the past 30 years.

Just a couple weeks ago, the St Moritz horse racing on ice in Switzerland was cancelled because of too little snow.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@Whitegold,

Killington is in US, question is about Europe
Tignes/365 days....question is about winter, not about the whole year (and yes, there appears to be a huge difference in climatechange effects in The Alps in summer vs winter)
Val d'Isere, ok. But Arlberg has no significant changes in snow and temperatures (in winter)....what to make of that?
St.Moritz: Has an extreme (very dry) climate by nature. And this winter, all of the Alps are dry (but relatively cold; yes COLD!)
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Imo, not shifting, reducing. Both ends.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@Nickski, Opinion or experience?

When was the last time the Alps didn't get good snow (on top of pistes still with plenty of coverage) in May?

At the end of the season the problem is no customers, not no snow, IME.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Season hasn't shifted, it is just shorter than it was.

This year hasn't been great. 3 medium dumps (about 50-60cm each time) followed by foehn hasn't established a real base below 2000m. Meteo France reports snow levels down 50 to 60% at these altitudes. Off piste it is worse than last year, on piste in the 1300-1700m range slightly better because it was colder in January and resorts were able to use the snow that fell. Over 2000m it is ok, but for how long? Looking at the thermometer temperatures were only below freezing at 2300m from the start of January to mid February.

A town like Bourg St Maurice has seen average temperatures increase by 2C over the last 50 years.

In the French Alps the large migration into the mountains must take some blame. The Alps were pretty much deserted 50 years ago. Towns like Grenoble have grown from tiny backwaters to large sprawling conurbations. Ditto the Arve valley with its uncontrolled and uncontrollable ribbon development. Annecy and Chambery likewise. Ski resorts now cover the Savoie mountains with more development to come.
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Quite an emotive subject. Thanks for all your replies.

As I and others have said - we no longer plan to ski during late December / early January - too risky.

There's lots of artificial snow around but I do like to see everything covered in white, not just the manufactured piste! Skiing is expensive and it's important to maximise the enjoyment!

I've skied a reasonable amount at the end of March and conditions have always been good - lots of snow, lots of sunshine, sometimes a bit slushy in the afternoon but still very pleasant.

Never in to April though so can't comment on the season becoming shorter rather than shifting!
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
davidof wrote:
Ski resorts now cover the Savoie mountains with more development to come.


Pretty questionable to expect more than minor new development. Quite apart from environmental objectives, demand in the snowsports industry is at best static.

I do believe in man-made climate change but just looking at a few seasons and claiming a change is completely bogus. It's the weather, it varies.


Last edited by Ski the Net with snowHeads on Sun 26-02-17 10:53; edited 1 time in total
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dogwatch wrote:
davidof wrote:
Ski resorts now cover the Savoie mountains with more development to come.


Pretty questionable to expect more than minor new development. Quite apart from environmental objectives, demand in the snowsports industry is at best static.


Val Thorens plan to put pistes and lifts the Lou Valley to give but one example.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
File under "minor"?
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Whitegold wrote:
mountainaddict wrote:
Quote:
Ski seasons are shortening dramatically everywhere. Killlington, USA, has seen its season shrink 10-30% in the past 30-40 years. Chacaltaya, Bolivia, has completely 100% shut down, forever, because the glacier and snowfield melted away.Tignes, France, has seen its season shrink 10-20% in the past 20 years. Snowfall across the European Alps has declined 10-20% since the 1980s. 
The number of yearround skiable glaciers in the European Alps has collapsed -80% since the 1970s. Only snowmaking hides the problem and makes things feel better. The flood of data for shrinking ski seasons is overwhelming.
Good God! That's all unusually positive for Whitegold, Snowheads' resident Private Fraser......Let's face it, we're DOOOOOOOMED Laughing

Despite that, I've been skiing every year since 1988; always ski early season (Oct/Nov); late season (late April/early May); summer (June - September); 40-65 days per year - and have (touch wood wink) never had a snowless ski trip.... Very Happy



Of course, it is still possible (for now) to ski every year and every month somewhere in the world.

But the stats are indisputable and showing clear downtrends -- less snowfall and less skidays.

Killington, USA, used to open often Oct to Jun. Now, it struggles to open Dec to Apr.

Tignes, France, used to open all 365 days of the year. Now, it struggles to stay open for 300 days.

Val d'Isere, France, has seen its average annual snowfall decline -25% in the past 30 years.

Just a couple weeks ago, the St Moritz horse racing on ice in Switzerland was cancelled because of too little snow.




I just cannot fathom why you continue to spout such b*****ks. What do you get out of posting statistics that you have made up?

From Val d'Isere... Here are the cumulative heights of snow in a winter season in Val d'Isère since 1990:

Winter 90/91: 5 M44
Winter 91/92: 4 M64
Winter 92/93: 3 M66
Winter 93/94: 7 M15
Winter 94/95: 7 M98
Winter 95/96: 4 M35
Winter 96/97: 5 M30
Winter 97/98: 5 M76
Winter 98/99: 7 M05
Winter 99/00: 6 M21
Winter 00/01: 6 M47
Winter 01/02: 4 M27
Winter 02/03: 4 M30
Winter 03/04: 5 M28
Winter 04/05: 4 M79
Winter 05/06: 6 M24
Winter 06/07: 4 M77
Winter 07/08: 6 M05
Winter 08/09: 6 M00
Winter 09/10: 5 M04
Winter 10/11: 2 M34
Winter 11/12: 6 M90
Winter 12/13: 7 M95
Winter 13/14: 4 M44
Winter 14/15: 4 M01
Winter 15/16: 6 M19

For the record, he fell, since the beginning of the 201/2017 season, 2 M45 of snow.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Here are my observations from the last few years in the Swiss Alps:

1. Late snow (i.e. after resorts close) of good quantity has happened every year. April would be far more reliable for decent conditions than December, if any lift companies would open.
2. Swiss lift companies will never, ever, ever change their opening from the current last week in November to last week in March. If the gods promised 150cm of powder every March 31st, they would still shut the resort and lament that the hiking trails are closed.
3. There has been at one decent dump between November and New Year every year, but in isolation followed by warm temperatures. It gives one week's good conditions and then it's gone again. It's great if you live here and can take advantage, but useless if you're booking a trip from abroad in advance.
4. Snow depths at 2000m+ have been larger than historical averages, and much lower than average at < 1800m. Temperatures and rainfall have both increased slightly, which means that resorts above the (now higher) snowline are doing really well, but the small resorts lower down are facing extinction.
5. Winter weather seems to oscillate purely between mild and wet (snowing at 2000m, rain at <1600m) and very cold and sunny. Cold with snow down to low levels is increasingly uncommon.

I've seen some data from ETH Zürich which back up 4 and 5, I'll have to see if I can dig it out.

If the trend continues, the economics ought to drive Switzerland to having fewer, higher-altitude resorts which open later and longer, but I think resistance to change will mean all the resorts taking a financial hit (as if the strong CHF wasn't enough of a problem).
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@ibexag, apart from "the last few years" making any observations useless in terms of observing trends...

1. yes, but the skiing public are heading to the beach by then
2. ...because the skiing public are heading to the beach
3. Can't make any decisions based on sparse data, see above
4. not sure much larger above 2,000 but yes, reduced below 1,600 and there is at least one Swiss paper that shows that this appears to be happening as a reasonably confident trend over a longer period.
5. That's somewhat obvious isn't it? That's what typical winter weather is like - although the snow levels may not be as you suggest...
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
What would be helpful would be if people could come up with some selective or indeed bogus statistics or perhaps subjective observations over a period too short to have any statistical relevance and tout them as facts or better still FACT (in a slightly shouty way). That would clear things up.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@nozawaonsen, exactly. Experts, eh?
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
The EK season runs from last weekend of Nov to first weekend of May. I skied there in November and will be back to ski at Easter and again in May.

EK had 4 weeks of continual snow leading up to an amazing season opener. Are we saying the season has shifted forwards or backwards?
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French Alps, 1325 meters



So shorter, not shifted season if we compare the 1960 to 1990 timeframe with 1981 - 2010
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bar shaker wrote:

From Val d'Isere... Here are the cumulative heights of snow in a winter season in Val d'Isère since 1990:


Interesting, not a lot of data but I tossed it into Excel and plotted the trend



about -20cm every 10 years.

It seems to correspond to similar graphs including that from the Col du Porte

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@davidof, knock 2011 off as an outlier and the trend is somewhat different...
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
under a new name wrote:
@davidof, knock 2011 off as an outlier and the trend is somewhat different...


add in 2017 and the trend is even sharper down.

As the saying goes "if my aunt had balls, she'd not be my aunt".
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@under a new name, Why not 63-64, or 12-13?
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Those trends are a bit scary, particularly when you consider how poor this season has been..
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