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Mild weather melts snow on Swiss slopes leaving ski resorts deserted

A closed ski lift in Vaulion (REUTERS)
A closed ski lift in Vaulion (REUTERS)

A Swiss ski resort has been left deserted after unusually mild weather melted snow on the slopes.

Dent-de-Vaulion in the Swiss Jura Mountains should be busy with skiers in the peak of the winter season but its lifts are empty.

Switzerland, a major ski destination, is warming at about twice the global average rate partly because its mountains trap heat, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in a report.

January was exceptionally warm, with temperatures hovering more than 2C above the average between 1990 and 2020, said MeteoSwiss, the country's federal office for meteorology and climatology.

"We are beating records so often that it doesn't feel extraordinary anymore when it actually is," said Christophe Salamin, a meteorologist at MeteoSwiss.

"We haven't heard of any cold records in Switzerland for years."

The weather on Friday in Dent-de-Vaulion, which is more than 1,400 metres (4,593 feet) above sea level, was 9C, compared to the normal January level of around -1C, and next week is expected to be even warmer at around 11C.

Mountain Wilderness, an NGO focused on preserving mountainous areas, said last year that 65 mechanical ski lifts were rusting away due to the absence of snow and unusually high temperatures.

Tourism is central to the economy of the Jura mountain range, which crosses Switzerland, France and Germany, with visitors hiking and cycling as well as taking part in downhill and cross-country skiing.

Its hiking route, the Jura ridgeway, takes in a 190 mile-long route full of signposted trails.