Snow shortage in the Alps amid abnormally high temperatures

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By Euronews  with AP
The Patscherkofel winter sport resort near Innsbruck, Austria, is pictured on Monday, Jan. 2, 2023.
The Patscherkofel winter sport resort near Innsbruck, Austria, is pictured on Monday, Jan. 2, 2023.   -  Copyright  Matthias Schrader/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

Much of the Alps does not look right for this time of the year, with sparse snowfall and unseasonably warm weather allowing grass to blanket the European mountain range. 

The lack of snowfall on mountain tops has caused headaches for ski slope operators and admirers of Alpine white.

Patches of grass, rock and dirt were visible on Monday in some of Europe’s skiing meccas -- like Innsbruck in Austria, Villars-Sur-Ollon and Crans-Montana in Switzerland, and Germany’s Lenggries. 

The near absence of snow has renewed worries about the impact of abnormal seasonal temperatures linked to climate change.

On a swath stretching from France to Poland, many parts of Europe are currently enjoying short-sleeve weather. 

The mercury in Poland hit double-digit daily highs, topping 10 degrees Celsius in recent days. 

Swiss state forecaster MeteoSuisse pointed to some of the hottest temperatures ever this time of year. 

The alpine resort of Villars-sur-Ollon, Switzerland, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022.Laurent Gillieron/' KEYSTONE / LAURENT GILLIERON

A weather station in Delemont, in the Jura range on the French border, already hit a record average daily temperature of 18.1 degrees Celsius on the first day of the year.

MeteoSuisse joked on its blog: “This turn of the new year could almost make you forget that it's the height of winter.”

The start of 2023 picked up where many countries had already left off. 

Last year was the hottest on record in both Switzerland and France, with the United Nations' World Meteorological Organisation saying the past eight years are on track to be the eight warmest on record.

Its final tally for global temperature in 2022 will be released in mid-January.

Meteo France says the southern Alps and, in the northern Alps, slopes above 2,200 metres, have seen close to normal snowfalls. 

But snow is notably lacking at lower altitudes in the northern Alps and across the Pyrenees, it said.

Scientists have linked abnormally high temperatures to human-made climate change. 

They say extreme weather events will grow more frequent, intense and longer, unless governments and people drastically reduce their carbon emissions.