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Snow stays away as winter keeps its distance

Ski lift operators in the Austrian winter wonderland of Salzburg are still waiting for the first big snowfall so that the lifts can come fully into operation.

The famous Föhn wind,  a type of dry down-slope wind that occurs in the lee (downwind side) of a mountain range is partly been blamed for the absence of snow.

Winds of this type are called "snow-eaters" for their ability to make snow melt or sublimate rapidly. This snow-removing ability is caused not only by warmer temperatures, but also the low relative humidity of the air mass having been stripped of moisture by precipitation over the mountain.

But also to blame is the generally warm weather from the Golden November that has so far existed in 2012.

It is even too warm for artificial snow in many areas.

In the St. Johann-Alpendorf (Pongau) there is still sunshine and green meadows with any skiing under 800 m impossible .

Ferdinand Eder, spokesman for the Salzburg ski lift operators, said that he was not especially troubled because when the cold did come the snow would quickly follow.

He said: "The prognosis is that by the end of the month temperatures will drop and winter will finally arrive. With the excellent technical infrastructure here in particular in generating artificial snow we are well prepared to take advantage of this drop in temperature all across Salzburg."

Even at the more high altitude resorts such as Obertauern (Pongau/Lungau) the large majority of the resort is still not active although it is the only Salzburg ski area alongside the Kitzsteinhorn (Pinzgau) where skiing is currently possible.

Four lifts are in operation at Obertauern.

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