No snow in Switzerland this one time.
A Green Christmas
If you haven’t already heard, Global Warming is a thing. It’s a serious, horrible, ugly thing that is only getting worse each year. The snow that was supposed to fall in Switzerland, fell in Hawaii this winter. Hawaii!
The only place on Earth guaranteed to be wonderful, 365 days a year, received snow, but not a ski town in the middle of the Swiss Alps? You heard me right, there was little to no snow in the Swiss Alps this holiday season.
What is climate change? Have a look at Neil Degrasse Tyson’s take on this global issue.
Why am I telling you this? Cause old man winter broke our White Christmas, that’s why.
No, not that kind of dry. The Pinot in Switzerland was terrific. I mean the other kind of dry. The lack of snow, kind of dry.
According to some tourism statistics, snow-related activities see up to one-third, (1/3 or 33%) of their traffic/income during the winter break. How is one 2 week period the bulk of their tourism?
Because very few people want to leave warm temperatures in order to visit cold temperatures (In my opinion), but also because everyone has at least a few days off for the Christmas holidays and what is more romantic than a ski resort.
It has spas, luxury dinners, horse and carriage rides, and ski slopes. I can’t ski to save my life and I have been to a handful of ski resorts in the past few years – on purpose, might I add.
Snowfall hasn’t been this low during the winter break since 1864, according to readings from the Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research.
This is significant for several reasons. First, and most importantly, this is slowly becoming a trend. For the past 3 years, there has been a significant lack of flurries and this scares the underpants off of both scientists and businesses alike. Secondly, 56% of resorts expect a loss in December due to this. Clients, like myself, expect there to be snow on a ski resort.
When spending this much money, so far away from home, during the holidays, one wants what they paid for. I paid for a white Christmas, because my home is about as green as they come, and I don’t like it.
How does lack of snow affect a ski resort’s bottom line, exactly?
What happens when you don’t get what you paid for? You get upset. You ask for refunds. You cancel plans. You make alternate arrangements and you complain. Some of us louder than others. So far, 50 % of resorts in Switzerland (up to 70% in Austria) currently use artificial snow to make up for the loss of real snow, in an attempt to keep customers happy.
While this seems like a happy alternative, there is much more to fake-snow than meets the eye.
How to Make Artificial Snow
Snocannonsns are needed to create the snow, first of all. Someone needs to pay for this. Then the canons collect water and eject snow. A few things are needed for this to happen and they are not always positive.
Either the canons are placed near an existing water source or one is created, either way, water is not going where Mother Nature intended it to go. Power is needed to work the canons in the first place. Probably enough to power a small town.
At the end of the day, who is going to pay for all of this. It most certainly will not be the resort. They want our money and they are not going to pay for snow. They are going to pass those costs on to us, the clients.
We have already invested an arm and a leg to reach our destination, feed ourselves, and find a reasonably inexpensive place to stay. Then you hand over your first-born in order to experience your destination the way you planned because those lift ticket prices are going to rise. (haha! See what I did there?!)
At the end of the day, however, the temperature still needs to be below freezing for any of this to work. They can’t be forking out the money to freeze water if it’s just going to melt within an hour of touching the ground because it’s 2 degrees outside. If the weather keeps warming, as they fear it will, no amount of lift tickets and snow canons are going to artificially make whole resorts a few degrees colder.
Word to the Wise
I’m telling you this for a few reasons. Most importantly, we need to curb Global Warming and restore what we have lost. Usually, this would go without saying but recent political changes around the world have made me rethink what the average person understands about the world.
If you already implement environmentally friendly strategies, good for you. Now teach your friends and family. No one else is going to. If you know all of this but don’t believe you are a big enough presence to do anything about it, look what happens when voters think the same thing.
Vacationers beware. When making plans that rely heavily on the weather, (weather dependent vacations) be it summer or winter-based, check the weather predictions for the year. But don’t forget to check the weather for the last few years.
Be your own scientist and look for the pattern. If it was green 3 years in a row, what are the chances of this year being the one that snows? Are you willing to spend your hard-earned money on it? Find alternative dates that are more in line with your expectations, or change your plans altogether.
In theory, if the business is stressed enough, they may pull their collective anger together and push politicians to finally do something. We can only hope, right?!
If you’re looking for the other posts in the Ultimate Travel Guide to Switzerland, we’ll link to them as they are available!
Part 1: Swiss Museum of Transport
Part 2: SaurierMuseum – Dinosaur Museum in Zurich
Part 3: Guide to Visiting Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe
Part 4: Top Things to See in Vaduz, Liechtenstein
Part 5: a Guided walking tour of Zurich
Part 6: Snow in the Swiss Alps: Little Snow for Christmas
Part 7: Touring Lake Geneva with kids
Part 8: Jungfraujoch with kids
Part 9: Top family friendly Hotels near Jungfrau
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