Tuesday, March 28, 2023

The snow situation in the mountains really was that precarious

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Satellite images show green meadows in Flims and Co.

The snow situation in the mountains really was that precarious

It has been warm in Switzerland for weeks. Too warm. There was no snow anywhere. Pictures from space now show how bad it actually was.

Published: 12 minutes ago


Updated: 4 minutes ago


In the winter sports resort of Flims GR, the color green dominated around New Year, as a satellite image shows.


Nicola AbtRingier journalism student

At the beginning of the year, a satellite snapped a picture that shocked every snow fan. What was gleaming white in January 2022 now shimmered greenish. The photo is from the area around the winter sports resort of Flims GR. It was shot by the European Space Agency ESA’s Sentinel-2 satellite mission and shows how dramatic the snow situation in Switzerland was at the beginning of the month.

Blame? An unusual heat wave at the beginning of the year. There were a number of temperature records on New Year’s Eve. Germany recorded 950 heat records for the season in just three days, as the “Spiegel” writes. The Bernese Oberland also struggled with the plus degrees. The ski festival on the Chuenisbärgli was just saved. A miracle when you look at the satellite images. The situation was much more relaxed a year ago. The snow cover reached down into the valley.

Stark contrasts in Laax

The situation in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, was similarly precarious. The measuring station recently registered not a single day in January with a snow cover. That’s why the men’s ski races had to be canceled at the end of the month. Similar images come from the Laax GR and Falera GR ski areas. A year ago the mountains shone white. Green and brown have been the dominant colors in recent weeks.

According to meteorologists, a high pressure area over the Mediterranean region was one of the reasons for the high temperatures. There was also an Atlantic depression. In their interaction, a strong south-west current was created, which brought warm air from north-west Africa to the middle latitudes. As the air circulated over the North Atlantic, it was further heated because the sea surface was also unusually warm.

Thanks to the snowfall over the past few days, the situation is gradually easing. Lower regions can also enjoy a fine layer of snow. Winter seems to be arriving after all – albeit with a delay.

More on the precarious snow situation

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