SNOW JOURNAL – The Season of Discontent

August 9th, 2013
  


This season has had its ups and downs, the ups have been high and the downs have been low Image:: Falls Creek/Hocking

Mountainwatch | Reggae Elliss

Well, it’s August 9 and we’re on the half way mark for this winter and what a weird winter it has been. Talk about up and down, especially when you realise we’ve had three or four good falls over 50cm over the past two months, but we have only just cracked 1m at Spencer’s Creek. As they say, what nature giveth, nature takes away.

While we have had a few good days it has been frustrating, with every good storm followed by warm northerlies and a significant rain event. Of course, things looked promising before the season with a good snow base in mid May, but that was washed away by 100ml of rain on May 30-31. The result was the only lift open on the June long weekend was a carpet on Perisher’s Front Valley.

June limped along with some small 5cm falls, but thanks to the snowmaking, more lifts opened in each resort. The first good fall came through on June 24, just in time for first week of the school holidays, with 20cm off a southeast system. The snowmakers also did their bit so there was some OK on-piste skiing, but definitely nothing to get excited about. Things started to look up around July 5 with a 15cm fall and that system continued for a few days, leaving behind 70cm of snow by July 8, with some good snow off piste for a few powder turns. Normally that would be enough to get things rolling for the season, but disaster was around the corner, the Grasshopper’s forecast on July 12 all about rain and warm hair-dryer northwest winds.


The rain early in June washed away any natural snow for opening weekend, lucky the snow guns were on hand to dish out some man made Image:: Thredbo

We ended up getting 30-50ml on July 13-14 across all resorts and no one was happy.

The rain and warm northerlies continued all week and by Friday July 19, the snow was as bad as it has ever been at that time of the season as my Thredbo report indicated:
“What to say? I never thought I’d ever write a report like this in mid-July, but the only area open is Friday Flat. It is wet and windy with the northwesterly currently at 70ks, gusting up to 100. We have had 48mm of rain since it hit early this morning and at around 11 last night the northwesterly was gusting up to 130kms/hr. The result is the snow cover has been decimated with Merrits, High Noon and the Supertrail all closed. Sad to think we had 80% of terrain open a week ago.”


50 cm + in the last week and things are starting to look very much like August in Perisher Image:: Perisher

All of the resorts were suffering, and the smaller ones like Selwyn and Baw Baw had no lifts open. Sad days indeed. Well, just like Superman, a cold front came through overnight on July 19-20, dropping 50cms by Monday 22. As the Grasshoppper said in his forecast on July 21 – “This weekend will be remembered as the turning point of the season.”

Everyone thought we were saved and there was some pretty good snow to be had from July 21-24. But right on cue, the warm northerlies kicked in again, Sydney was getting temps in the early 20s and we had more rain on July 29. By last Friday the cover was very thin off piste in all resorts and we were back to hard-packed on piste runs, the best in the snowmaking areas.

I was up at Perisher to film the snow report and the cover at the top of the Quad was reduced to one cat-track of pushed in snow and it looked a little depressing. However the forecast was looking good, The Grasshopper was calling for 25-40cm across both Victorian and NSW resorts form Friday night through to Monday and it came through, last Sunday being the best day of the season with 25cm of fresh snow and plenty of dry windblown as well.

So here we are, three days later and we had a surprise 10-20cm on Wednesday night.The forecast is for snow and rain tonight, August 9, and then more snow early next week. The big question is will we see another week-long run of warm northerly hair dryer winds, followed by rain or will August continue this early cycle of snow every few days? There is still two months to go in the season, and we could be in for weeks of good wintery conditions followed by fun spring skiing like last year. Who knows?

One thing I do know, is that it is not a winter to take anything for granted and when it is on, make every effort you can to get out there. The day you don’t go skiing or snowboarding is a day you’ll never go skiing or snowboarding!


Here’s hoping to many more sunsets like this in Falls for the rest of winter, perhaps with a bit more snow Image:: Falls Creek/Hocking


Here’s hoping to many more sunsets like this in Falls for the rest of winter, perhaps with a bit more snow Image:: Falls Creek/Hocking

Perisher forecasts,
snow reports and
live snow cams.

Falls Creek forecasts,
snow reports and
live snow cams.

Mount Buller forecasts,
snow reports and
live snow cams.

Hotham forecasts,
snow reports and
live snow cams.

Thredbo forecasts,
snow reports and
live snow cams.

Mount Baw Baw forecasts,
snow reports and
live snow cams.