“Lucifer” heat wave takes toll on Alpine glacier

High temperatures force Italy’s summer ski resort at Stelvio Pass to close until further notice due to worsening snow conditions.

STELVIO PASS, ITALY (LOCAL TEAM) – High temperatures that have hit Italy over the past weeks have taken their toll on the country’s glaciers, with a summer ski resort at the Stelvio Pass having to make the historic decision to suspend its activities due to worsening conditions at the Alpine glacier.

Swathes of southern and eastern Europe have sweltered in temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius (104°F) this week in a heat wave nicknamed “Lucifer” that has fanned forest fires, triggered weather warning alerts and damaged crops.

Extremely warm temperatures have also been recorded at the Alpine Stelvio Pass, at around 3,000 meters above sea level, said director of the glacier’s summer ski resort Umberto Capitani.

Combined with very little snow fall over the past three years, conditions at the glacier are troublesome, he said as skiers enjoyed their last day on the slopes before the temporary closure of the resort on August 6.

Aerial footage filmed with a drone revealed a greying, melting glacier, with the usual white ice seen only at its highest parts at the top of the mountain.

The melting of the glaciers brings several risks, primarily the loss of water reserves, but also increases the probability of rock falls, endangering the lives of hikers and skiers.