White Christmas unlikely for most of Austria
Austria’s unusually mild weather for the time of year is good news for the Christmas markets as people are not so tempted to stay at home and keep warm, but does mean that there’s not much chance of a white Christmas for most of Austria’s cities and low lying areas.
Temperatures will fall over the weekend with a strong west wind in the mountains and the east of the country. Snow is forecast over Christmas in the north and central alps but conditions are predicted to be rather mild and dry elsewhere.
Snow over Christmas tends to be the exception rather than the rule, according to statistics from the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics (ZAMG). Vienna, Eisenstadt, St. Pölten, Linz, Salzburg, Graz and Bregenz have had snowfall on Christmas Day only every three or four years.
Innsbruck and Klagenfurt tend to get more of the white stuff around this time of year, with statistics showing that every second Christmas has had a good coating of snow.
For regions 1,000 metres above sea level, which accounts for 40 percent of Austria - a white Christmas is a given. Semmering, Bad Gastein, Seefeld, Ramsau and Warth am Arlberg are all places to go if you want to see snow over the holiday.
Many ski resorts in Austria have been unable to open due to too little or not enough snow, and temperatures are too mild to use snow-making machines, which still require an adequate level of natural snowfall.
Stefan Strolz, mayor of the of the Alpine village of Warth in Vorarlberg, said that one more week's delay in the start to the season was "bearable" but that any longer would cause "serious economic pain".
In the western state of Tyrol, Austria's biggest skiing region, only around 30 out of 80 ski resorts were open, and those that were had only a few ski lifts in operation.
Florian Neuner, spokesman for the Tyrol tourist board, remained positive about the season as colder weather is predicted next week.
"In some cases the number of reservations for the Christmas and New Year period is actually better than last year," he said. "Hoteliers are mostly still relatively relaxed and are not worried."