200 Million Euros for Snow making in the French Alps

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Gilles Chabert and a snow canon - the Plan Neige - Alps

200 million euro is going to be spent over the next 6 years. This money is to equip ski resorts in the French Alps with additional snow making machines and infrastructure. This has been announced by the new president, Laurent Wauquiez, of the Region Auvergne Rhone-Alpes.

Wauquiez is supported in this by Gilles Chabert a president of the “Mountain Committee” of the council. Chabert is also president of the French ski instructor association (SNMSF) - surely a conflict of interest?

The lack of snow in recent winters, due to warmer winters, threatens the viability of the ski resorts. The resorts at lower altitudes are struggling to remain viable. Currently the ski resorts are a mainstay of the economy in the French Alps. They provide thousands of seasonal jobs for winter between December and April depending on the resort. However they need to adapt to the reality of a changing climate.

To function, snow making machines mix water and air under pressure. The fine water droplets crystalise in the air as they fall to the ground providing the temperature is 0 deg C or below. So, the increasingly warmer winters will mean that this equipment is useless. A white elephant, complete folly!

In some cases an additive, called “Snomax” is added to the water/air mix that allows snow to be made up to 4 deg. C. This additive has been banned in Southern Tyrol and Vorarlberg in Austria in order to protect water supplies. The exact situation regarding the usage of “Snowmax” in France is not clear.

The ski resort of Les Saisies has covered a huge mound of snow in saw dust! The resort is going to uncover it when the Tour de France passes the Col des Saisies.

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