Over the last few years, skiers and snowboarders across Europe have had a somewhat turbulent relationship with the winter season. Traditionally reliable patterns of snowfall have shifted, turned unpredictable, leaving many winter sports enthusiasts wondering if good snowfall years are a thing of the past.
While climate change has undoubtedly had an effect on the snow patterns in Europe, there are other factors too. And snow fans might be keen to hear what the winter snow fall predictions for Europe might be in 2023/24.
One thing that is partly to blame for this variability is the weather phenomenon known as La Niña, which tends to translate into warmer winters and less snow for Europe’s mountain ranges. But this year is different. With the advent of an El Niño phase, could winter 2023/2024 could hold some snowy surprises for European ski resorts?
Will there be Much Snowfall in Europe this Year?
Climate change’s impact on winters is no secret. Prevailing patterns of rising average temperatures year-round have led to generally milder winters with less reliable snowfall in recent years. Yet, that’s not necessarily indicative of what we can expect for our winter snowfall prediction 2023/2024.
Thanks to shifting patterns in the Pacific Ocean, this year is an El Niño year — and that could be good news for European snow enthusiasts.
The Impact of El Niño
El Niño, the ‘warm phase’ of what’s known as El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), is usually linked with colder winters and increased snowfall in Europe through the influence it has on the jet stream and Atlantic storm track. Whilst it can’t completely negate the warming trend experienced globally due to climate change, El Niño often leads towards a colder and snowier winter for many parts of the continent.
And while this sounds like good news, and for snow fans it definitely is, this isn’t a guarantee. Of course.
However, the impact of La Niña has been felt in Europe, with some of the patchiest snowfall in recent years. Some ski resorts in France and the other traditional snowsports destinations even had to bring in snow and close lifts during the 2022/23 winter season.
But if you’re wondering if this could be a good year, it might not be all doom and gloom on the snow fall (weather) front.
Snow in the Alps: 2023/2024 Predictions
Given that it is an El Niño year, the winter sport community enthusiastically anticipates potential snowfalls. In recent years, patchy and less dependable snowfall has led to a certain degree of uncertainty and apprehension among skiers and snowboarders. But with a stronger likelihood of heavier snowfall across the region, the 2023/2024 season might bring happier tidings.
Professor Adam Scaife, head of long-range prediction at the UK’s Met Office says, “El Niño years tend to be mild wet and westerly start to winter and a colder, drier end to winter across most of northern Europe.”
This suggests that winter 2023/24 could start a little flat, but pick up after new year 2024.
The Swiss Alps, French Alps, and the Italian Alps could all anticipate abundant snowfall, more significant than in recent years, thanks to the climatic influence of El Niño. With a potential for greater snow depths and extended snowfall periods, winter sports enthusiasts might enjoy one of the best seasons in years.
If you managed to get to the mountains in 2019/20, before the impact of COVID, you might remember that this was a good snow year. This was the turning point in the La Niña/El Niño weather patterns, and while 2020/21 also saw good snowfall, the 2022 and 2023 winter seasons have definitely suffered.
Pyrenees: A White Winter on the Horizon?
Moving west, the snowfall situation in the Pyrenees also looks encouraging. Given the current El Niño situation, the prospects of better snow conditions in areas like Andorra are heightened. So, for those who prefer the Pyrenees to the Alps, the 2023/2024 winter season holds an alluring promise.
Of course, while El Niño tends to tip the odds towards a snowier winter, it shouldn’t be taken as a guarantee. Heavier snowfall is likely, but not certain, and the story can vary from location to location.
Broader European Snow Forecast
Across the wider European landscape — from Spain’s Sierra Nevada to Scandinavia’s vast array of ski resorts — the story could be similar. The 2023/2024 season may bring heavier snowfall and more suitable conditions for winter sports. There is certainly cause for tentative optimism, at the very least.
In conclusion, the prediction for the European winter 2023/2024 hints at a potentially snow-filled season for skiers and snowboarders. It looks promising for the Alps, hopeful for the Pyrenees, and equally optimistic for the other regions.
However, as we continue to understand the complex interplay of climate change and weather patterns such as El Niño or La Niña, one thing remains clear: winter sports enthusiasts need to remain adaptable and responsive to these changing conditions.
To all the snow lovers and winter sports aficionados across Europe and beyond, here’s to hoping that the 2023/2024 season brings the snow-filled adventures we’ve missed in recent years!
As these predictions become more certain, I’ll keep you informed with the aim of ensuring your winter plans align with the best snowfall of the season. Watch this space and get those skis and snowboards ready for action!