Tough Snow Conditions Across Australia

Julia Schneemann | | Industry NewsIndustry News
Snow depth
Current snow depth across Australia. | Picture: Pete ‘the Frog’ Taylor via his website

It is August and usually this means it is the best month to head out to ski or snowboard downunder. Unfortunately Australia has been hit by a high pressure front, that has kept resorts above freezing temperatures for a whole week. The sunshine combined with the spring-like temperatures melted significant amounts of the snow cover and above freezing temperatures did not allow for any snow making over night last week.

According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (‘BOM’), Australia’s national mean temperature was 1.19°C above the 1961-1990 average, the ninth-highest on record (since 1910) for July. While nationally-averaged July total rainfall for Australia was close to average, rainfall for Victoria, where some of the ski resorts are located, was below average.

A number of fronts crossed southern Australia during July bringing some snow to the skifields and clear skies and light winds in early July resulted in cold nights, enabling sufficient snow making. However, in the last five days of July mild daytime temperatures across Australia resulted in daily maximum temperatures 2 to 8 °C above the July average and resulted in an erosion of the snow cover across Australian ski resorts.

Spencer’s Creek
Snow depth at Spencer’s Creek 2016 versus 2023. 2016 was the most recent El Niño year and 2023 was shaping up to be fairly similar to 2016 until last week. | Picture: Snowy Hydro Website

Australia had seen good snow fall in late June and snowfalls were tracking well against recent El Niño years, like 2016 and 2006, but the last week has put a huge dent in the snow fun for now and once can only hope that the next cold front will come soon and bring some precipitation in the form of snow with it. 

2006 was the worst ski season in recent memory. It was an El Niño year combined with a negative IOD, which is the weather pattern shaping up for this year as well, but BOM has not officially declared it an El Niño year. Compared to 2006, snow depth is tracking much better. | Picture: Snowy Hydro Website

Perisher Ski Resort and Thredbo Ski Resort are both still counting 110cm (43 inches) of natural snow depth at this point. However, the sun has eroded many exposed areas, resulting in limited operations in some areas.

Perisher announced today that its ski area Guthega will be closed for skiing. Blue Calf and Blue Cow t-bar will operate for access to Blue Cow area only.

Skiing or boarding will not be possible from Perisher to Blue Cow, however Copperhead Road, which gives access in the opposite direction, is still accessible.

Guthega ski area at Perisher has no snow making infrastructure and faces the sun. This has resulted in a dramatic erosion of the snowbase in that area and it will not be open for skiing or boarding today. | Picture: Perisher Resort Website

There is also no on-snow access to Smiggin Holes. A shuttle will be operating between Smiggins and Perisher instead. Smiggins, which is a popular beginner area and lowest in altitude in the combined Perisher Ski Resort, is only operating one t-bar and two j-bars as well as its two beginner conveyors today.

Smiggin Holes area of the Perisher Ski Resort, NSW, Australia. | Picture: Perisher Resort Website

Selwyn Snow Resort has been closed since last Monday. The resort is Australia’s most northern ski resort and is located at an altitude of 1,492 m (4,895 ft) and reaches a top elevation of 1,614 ft (5,295 ft). In the southern hemisphere, a northern location of course means closer to the equator and thus warmer, which means the resort can have trouble maintaining a good natural snow cover. The resort invested heavily into snowmaking infrastructure after the 2019/20 bushfires, purchasing state-of-the-art TechnoAlpin snow cannons, but recently temperatures have stayed above freezing and day time temperatures were around 10°C (50°F).

Mt Selwyn has lost almost all its snow due to the warm late July temperatures. | Picture: Selwyn Snow Resort Website

Over the state line in Victoria, resorts are struggling the same. Mt Hotham reportedly has a natural snow depth of 49cm (19 inches) while Falls Creek has around 59cm (23 inches) . Mt Buller, which is located at a lower altitude than the aforementioned resorts, currently only has 21cm (8 inches) of natural snow depth on average across the resort. Some ski runs are entirely devoid of snow.

snow australia
The Fox run at Mt. Buller, VIC, Australia. | Picture: Mt Buller Ski Resort Website


Thankfully temperatures are forecast to drop which should enable natural snow making. There is some snowfall forecast in 10-14 days, but weather models that far out tend to be highly unreliable.

All we can doe downunder is hope that a cold front will change things this August and do a little snow dance or two. It is only early August and late August and September can often still see significant snowfalls.

Forecast by Pete ‘the Frog’ Taylor for Australian resorts. | Picture: Snowatch website


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