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Swiss ski area left without snow, deserted by the mildness of January

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VAULION, Switzerland: The once-popular ski slopes of Dent-de-Vaulion in Switzerland’s Jura mountains are now deserted as unusually mild weather has driven away winter sports enthusiasts and forced ski resorts to close Across the country.

Abandoned ski lift poles sway in the wind. Crispy snow dots stretches of yellowed grass. Elevator pylons stand isolated on rocky terrain where joyful crowds once blew steam in freezing temperatures.

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

January was unusually warm, with temperatures more than 2 degrees Celsius (35.6 Fahrenheit) above the average between 1990 and 2020, said MeteoSwiss, the country’s federal office of meteorology and climatology.

“We break records so often that it no longer seems extraordinary when it really is,” said MeteoSwiss meteorologist Christophe Salamin. “It’s been years since we last heard of cold discs in Switzerland.”

Winter seemed almost over on Friday at Dent-de-Vaulion, at more than 1,400 meters above sea level. The sky was clear and temperatures were mild, at 9 degrees Celsius, well above the normal January level of around -1 Celsius.

Next week the temperature is expected to be even warmer, around 11 degrees.

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

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