Weather News

Snowmaking to save 2024 ski season opening

Anthony Sharwood, Tuesday May 21, 2024 - 12:36 AEST


After light snowfalls on the weekend which have mostly melted, no significant snowfalls are on the horizon for the mainland Australian ski resorts before the official King's Birthday Long Weekend season opening on Saturday, June 8.


But even if nature doesn't come to the party, snowmaking should ensure a base for beginner and lower intermediate skiers and snowboarders.


Snowmaking began on the weekend at several resorts and has continued into the working week in the cold dry, air in the wake of the cold front.


Up to this Tuesday, May 21, Perisher Valley has had seven straight subzero nights, including a chilly minimum of –7.3°C on Tuesday morning.





Image: Not enough to ski on yet, but they'll get there. Source: Perisher.com.au.


Snowmaking is a process by which a mixture of chilled mountain water and compressed air is blasted out into the atmosphere. The higher the humidity, the colder it must be to turn this mix into snow crystals, so clear nights with low humidity are ideal.





Image: The whoosh of mountain bikes is about to be replaced by skis and snowboards at Thredbo. Source: Thredbo.com.au.


So as mentioned, that's a silver lining – make that a snowy white lining – with no snowfalls looming on the horizon.


For that you can blame the blocking highs centred over or near the Great Australian Bight. These highs have been a dominant feature of weather across southern Australia in recent months (bringing wet weather to the east coast and mostly dry weather elsewhere) and show no signs of budging.


When blocking highs dominate southern Australian weather, snow-bearing Southern Ocean cold fronts have little chance of reaching the mainland. That's illustrated in the forecast chart for May 31 chart below, which is 10 days after today.





Image: To access the GFS long range charts on the Weatherzone site, click here. 


The good news is that there is still room for a significant snowy system to develop in the last few days before the June 8 season start.


It's also worth noting that two of the main climate drivers which affect the likelihood of Aussie snow – the IOD and the SAM – are currently in a neutral phase. So looking beyond the long weekend, there is no significant pointer at this stage to a good or bad overall snow season.


READ MORE: WHAT IS THE SAM?


READ MORE: WHAT IS THE IOD?


For now, it's good weather for snowmaking, and that's better than nothing.





Image: Falls Creek in Victoria is getting in on the snowmaking action too. Source: Fallscreek.com.au.





- Weatherzone

© Weatherzone 2024

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