Italy's Passo Stelvio has announced it will close for at least four days as a consequence of the current high temperatures to high altitude in the Alps.
Earlier this week Swiss meteorologists found the freezing point isotherm had reached a new record high of almost 5,300m, nearly 500 metres higher than the top of Mont Blanc
. This new high was about 100 metres high than the previous record high set 13 months previously.
Alpine glaciers had been seeing daytime temperatures getting to +10C higher at 3,000m and not dropping back below freezing overnight for several weeks now, leading to rapid loss of the remaining snowpack.
Passo Stelvio (pictured above early in its 2023 season last June) had seen its last reported base more than halves to 50cm and open runs drop to less than two miles and less than a third of its full area. Austria's Hintertux
, lone of three other areas open for skiing and boarding in the Alps, reported its base had dropped to 20cm and only 2km of slopes open, fraction of its normal area.
Switzerland's Saas Fee and Zermatt
appear to be faring the best, each still reporting a slope depth of 2m on higher runs and around 12km of slopes open each. Zermatt's glacier ski area is also accessible by ski lifts from across the border from Cervinia at present.
The hot weather is due to end over the weekend with significant snowfall expected on high slopes to end meteorological summer, Passo Stelvio's management say they'll make a decision next Tuesday on whether to reopen and if so when to do so.
Passo Stelvio usually aims to open from May to early November but has been forced to close by high midsummer temperatures increasingly frequently, last year closing down for about 6 weeks, along with previously year-round Zermatt, while Saas Fee was only open to race teams, from early August to mid-September. Hintertux was the only centre that managed to stay open to the public.