After a Slow Start to the Season, Australian Ski Resorts Begin Opening All Terrain

Ian McIsaac |
Thredbo Comparison
Comparison of Thredbo Ski Resort snow coverage. On the top is Thredbo on July 6th, 2023. The bottom image was on June 6th, 2023. – Image: Thredbo Snow Cams

The start of this year’s ski season in Australia saw little to no snow coverage. Many thought this would be one of the worst seasons the region has had in decades. However, resorts like Mt. Hotham and Perisher have received hefty snowfall in the past few weeks. In addition, many other Australian ski areas have had much lower temperatures as winter sets in. These temperatures allow for snow-making to take place. Now, the key for these resorts is to ensure the cold weather stays and the terrain can be opened fully. Previous seasons in Australia with low June snowfall end up being quite good. The question is, can 2023 replicate that pattern?

The reason for this year’s lack of June snowfall was the El Niño weather pattern. This weather pattern means there will be warmer temperatures and drier skies. In early June, Australia was even placed on “El Niño alert” by the Board of Meteorology. Another factor that plays into low snowfall in Australia is the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD). This metric measures the surface temperature of the Indian Ocean, and when this value is positive, it correlates to lower snowfall totals. The actual reduction in snowfall due to both of these metrics is around 20%. This statistic may sound concerning, but Australian ski resorts have shown time and time again that they can be resilient to various weather conditions.

Perisher, Australia
Image of Perisher – Image: Wikivoyage

This resilience to poor weather conditions can be seen through the snow-making ability of many Australian ski resorts. Perisher, for example, employs 150 snowmaking guns to help supply the lack of natural snow. Mt. Buller does the same, with 66cm (26in) of their snow made from man-made snow compared to 38cm (15in) of natural snow. Continued use of snowmaking will be necessary for these ski resorts if they wish to have all their terrain open in the coming weeks.

As for the resorts with the most terrain open right now, the crown would have to go to Perisher. With 85 of the 100 trails opened right now at the ski resort, it’s the winner of open terrain. Compared to a few weeks back in mid-June, the improvement is drastic. Ski resorts all around Australia have somehow managed to open most of their trails within a short period of time. It’s a testament to the ability and efficiency of the staff at these resorts.

Perisher Snowmaking
A Snowgun at Perisher – Image: Perisher

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