Despite the first day of winter arriving yesterday, the majority of Chilean ski resorts are yet to receive their first sticking snowfall of the season this year. Northern Chile is doing especially poor this season with ski resort giants such a Portillo & Valle Nevado completely devoid of snow right now.
“In all my years here, the snow has never taken so long to arrive or the season so long to start.” – Haydee Pereira, 15-year Valle Nevado employee
These ski resorts in Northern Chile planned to open on June 20th. Due to the lack of snow, their opening dates are To Be Determined. Even if they get one large snowstorm, it won’t be enough to open. This area will require a series of strong snowstorms to get ski resorts open this July.
Chile has been experiencing a drought for the past 8 years. Chile’s capital of Santiago is just below Valle Nevado and they seen only 1.2 centimeters of rain this year, which is just 14% of normal. Zero precipitation is in the current 7-day forecast.
According to Francisco Sotomayor, head of Chile’s ski centers association, the ski season at Valle Nevado has begun after June 25th 44% of the time. 25% of the time the ski season has started after July 1st.
The ski resorts near Santiago usually attract 600,000 to 700,000 visitors per year with Valle Nevado pulling in the lion’s share of 300,000 of those visits. 60% of those tourists are foreigners.
Chile’s latitude is the same as California’s. California has been seeing similar drought and snow woes with a four year historic drought that just brought us the worst snow year on record in 2014/15.
The lack of snow isn’t the only problem facing the Santiago area. The lack of storm, wind, and rain has lead to dangerously high levels of air pollution in Santiago which prompted the Chilean government to declare a state of emergency and force 900 businesses to shut down in Santiago.
Far southern Chile is doing much better with Corralco ski resort already open.