Storm Journal, September 24-27 – Cold System Delivers Some Spring Time Pow

September 30th, 2020
Sunset over a replenished Mt Hotham, September 28. Photo: Chris Hocking

Mountainwatch | Reggae Elliss

Last week’s storm ended up dropping 40-50cm of snow, the first decent snow to hit the Aussie Alps in a month and only the fourth storm of the season. Still, better late than never and the solid snow totals set up a good week in Perisher, the only ski resort still open, and some fun late season turns in the backcountry.


Boen Ferguson, skiing a tight line in the Main Range on Monday morning after the weekend reset. .Photo: Adam Kroenart

The storm arrived after a warm early September that saw hairdryer northwest winds and warm overnight temps accelerating the snow melt, the snow depth dropping by half a metre in a week. Unfortunately, the result was that Thredbo and Charlotte Pass had to close on Sunday, September 20 due to the poor snow cover and for those resorts this storm was two weeks too late.


The storm kicking into gear at Perisher on Friday, September 25. Photo: Perisher

The Grasshopper first mentioned the storm in his extended forecast on September 17 when he said a cold front will deliver some snow in the following week and it “should be a nice late season top up, giving us the first fresh snow in a long time.”

At that stage the possible snow totals weren’t huge, but by the following Monday the storm was developing into a classic mid-winter system, set to drag freezing air out of Antarctica and delivering decent snow totals.  In his forecast that day the Grasshopper wrote that the, “Models have lined up nicely for a cold front & low combo to dump a whole lot of snow this Friday and Saturday – early estimates are up around the 30-40cm mark.”


The image from the Grasshopper’s forecast on Thursday Sept 24: “Light flurries today before that cold front and low to the west dump 20-30cm over Aussie resorts Friday and Saturday.” Source: (vandalised by the Grasshopper)

The first cold front arrived on Tuesday night dropping 5cm overnight and then another 10cms by Thursday. The second and stronger front hit on Friday with snowfalls and cold west winds developing during the day, with blizzard conditions at times and a wind-chill down at -15.

By Saturday morning the Victorian Alps had received another 30cms and there was 25cms of fresh snow across the NSW resorts, setting up a good weekend. Perisher was the only resort open and it turned on a mid-winter powder day with dry fresh snow and plenty of people taking advantage of the late season snow.



Perisher’s snow stake on saturday morning says it all. Photo: Perisher


Falls Creek after 30cms on Friday night. Photo: Chris Hocking


Thredbo, top to bottom and tempting on Saturday morning.

Thredbo may have been closed, but the Kosciuszko chair was and is still open for backcountry access and last weekend a lot of people headed out the back for some fresh turns. By Saturday morning it was also top to bottom in the resort, which proved too tempting for some and by late morning there were quite a few tracks down the Supertrail and High Noon.

In Victoria the storm came at the right time for regional Victorians as restrictions had eased and they were now allowed to travel, and many headed into the mountains for a few backcountry turns. The resorts are open again for visitors and after all the snow there was plenty of opportunity to get up there for snow play, no doubt a welcome outlet after the lockdown. Buller also opened Bourke Street on Monday for regional  season pass members to lock in some long overdue turns.


Buller’s “Season Members embraced the spring vibes for a final hurrah on Bourke Street”

The days following the storm have been sunny with cold nights maintaining the snow, Perisher quite busy with school holidays while the fine weather was perfect for touring. However, the weather changed and it is rainy today and given the forecast and hot weather on the way, it looks like last week’s storm is most likely the last hurrah of a weird 2020 season.


Hotham, looking at its best on Sunday morning. Photo: Chris Hocking


Falls Creek village,a winter wonderland in late September. Photo: Chris Hocking


Tristan Rowley, backcountry kicker outside Thredbo yesterday. Photo: Martin Rowley


Bourke St corduroy for some final and unexpected turns on Monday. Photo: Mt Buller


A good cover in the Main Range but the snow will take a hit this weekend with warm temps on the way. Photo: Adam Kroenart