‘Warmth wave’ delays ski season

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UPDATED: It’s not exactly a heat wave, but an unusual spate of unseasonably warm weather is threatening the scheduled kick-off of World Cup ski competition in Norway and preventing ski resorts from opening. There’s no snow, and meteorologists are blaming warm air from the Azores.

This webcam shot confirms the lack of snow at the ski resort at Beitostølen. Resort officials noted,, however, that it could start falling at any time, once temperatures fall. PHOTO: Beitostolen.com

While the US East Coast has been clobbered with an unusually early snowstorm, it’s so warm in southern Norway that ski resorts can’t even make their own snow. For that, they need temperatures below the freezing point. Weather forecasters instead are predicting that balmy temperatures will continue for the next several days.

Even the mountain ski resorts of Geilo and Hovden were expecting temperatures as high as 7C  (45F) with some rain, instead of snow, in the forecast. Trysil was likely to hit 8C over the weekend, and Lillehammer 9C.

The World Cup opener in Nordic skiing set to take place at Beitostølen November 19-20 faced cancellation, as did next weekend’s Beitosprint and World Cup downhill (alpine) events in Finland. On Wednesday, officials decided to call off the Beitosprint on November 11-13, which annually marks the national opening of the winter ski season.

“If (the World Cup) is cancelled at Beitostølen, the FIS (International Ski Federation) will have to look at other arrangements,” Vidar Løfshus, a top official of the national cross-country ski team, told newspaper Aftenposten on Wednesday. “But there are no alternatives, there’s no snow anywhere.”

Even at one of the highest points in mountains of Jotunheimen, at an elevation of 1,894 meters, it was 5C on Tuesday, about 41F.

Unlike last year, when subzero temperatures settled in early, Norway was experiencing on of the mildest autumns in 12 years. There’s little if any snow in the mountains of Europe either, except for glacier skiing. Training sessions for the men’s downhill team at Hemsedal and the women’s team at Trysil were cancelled.

It’s colder some places in northern Norway, with temps below freezing at Kautokeino and Kirkenes, for example. But even Harstad and Tromsø were due for 8C and 9C during the weekend.

“The week ahead will be mostly mild, with warm air coming up from the south,” John Smits of the state meteorological institute told Aftenposten. “The air we’re getting now is from high-pressure systems in the eastern Atlantic, around the Azores. That’s why it’s so warm.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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