- Lucy Aspden, Online Ski Editor
It’s been quite a remarkable ski season, with record-breaking amounts of snowfall across Europe and freezing temperatures carrying on well into March.
However this weekend skiers and snowboarders in resorts across Eastern Europe got a surprise unlike any other when the ski slopes were blanketed in orange-tinted snow, transforming the mountains into something that looks more like the setting of the latest sci-fi film rather than a snow-sports paradise.
Destinations affected included the Rosa Khutor ski resort in Sochi, Russia, which hosted the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, as well as lesser-known resorts in Bulgaria and Georgia.
Meteorologists have explained that the orange-tinted snow is caused by sand and dust blowing from the Sahara and Arabian deserts in the South, which then mixes with snow and rain.
It’s a phenomenon that occurs roughly every five years but this year’s event has reportedly seen a much higher concentration of sand in the snow – causing the Mars-like landscape. The BBC reported that some people even complained of sand in their mouths.
Despite the apocalyptic conditions ski areas have remained open, providing a unique photo opportunity for visitors. Many skiers and snowboarders have taken to social media to share their pictures of the orange-tinted slopes.
However the arrival of the sand into the region’s weather system could spell disaster for its ski season. “The albedo of the snow is massively altered by the introduction of sand to the snow surface. The albedo refers to the ability of the snow to reflect the solar energy and this is reduced when any particle with colour is added,” said Paul Wisely from myweather2.com.
“It effectively means that 'orange snow' melts much more quickly than white snow and so resorts will hope that fresh falls of 'clean' snow will cover the sand to reduce accelerated snow loss,” explained Wisely.
“Mars attack!” wrote Instagram users Alina Smurygina.
“Martian landscapes, apocalypse on the mountain today!” said Margarita Alshina.
“Almost like in the desert,” wrote Ekaterina Grebnitskaya.
The slopes of Rosa Khutor were completly transformed.
Meanwhile 100 miles away on Mount Elbrus an avalanche of the orange-tinted snow buried 15 cars in a car park.