The following is a good end of season reflection from Reggae Elliss, writing on Mountain Watch. As Reggae notes, mid-July offered the best snow of the whole season. It was seriously excellent. After much early hype about it being a terrible season, it ended up being a solid, but not outstanding one. Reggae goes into it in some detail. Those heady days of July seem like a life time ago. But I have to admit that I’ve also had some of my best ever spring skiing these last two weeks, on SE slopes on The Bluff, in Dargo Bowl and out at Mt Loch.
There’s a few days skiing in some of the resorts and substantial backcountry terrain still in reasonable shape. Hope you have a chance to get out there …
As I write, there is still two weeks to go until the “official” end of the season here in Thredbo. Despite the warm weather of the past couple of days, plus 20mm of rain forecast, it looks like we’ll have some lifts spinning until October 6. Looking back on this winter, it’s a bit of a ‘glass half full’ scenario. The great snowfalls and powder days of July gave way to only minimal snowfalls in the past eight weeks with only two falls of over 10cm since July 18.
However, while we haven’t had that many powder days in the second half of winter, the snow has remained consistently good. August was a month of dry, chalky, packed-powder, cold sunny days and light wind. The past three weeks have also been good, with plenty of days of fun spring snow and sunshine.
Pre-season, all of the talk was about how an El Nino weather pattern was forming and this could mean a dry, cold winter, with minimal snowfall. Unfortunately, this sentiment gained a lot of traction when the opening weekend in June came and went without any natural snow, hardly any snowmaking and only one lift open in Australia, a t-bar to the second tower on Perisher’s Front Valley.
The media were having a field day, quoting all sorts of expert sources, all of whom concurred that 2014 was shaping up as a disaster with minimal snowfall. It could even be as bad as ’82. The ray of hope was our own Grasshopper, who wisely pointed out in his June seasonal outlook that it was too early to push the panic button and reminded us of his earlier seasonal outlooks published in April and May. In those, the Grasshopper emphasised that there are two variations of El Nino, the classic, dry cold version or the ‘Wrong ‘un”, a term the Grasshopper coined to describe an El Nino that spun the other way, delivering cold westerly air flows, low pressure systems south of Victoria and snow-bearing cold fronts.
It was too early to call at that stage, but he wasn’t jumping on the classic ‘El Nino’ bandwagon and was still leaning towards a ‘Wrong ‘Un” for the first half of the season and was calling for a snow depth max at Spencers Creek of 172cm and the first 50cm + storm coming in late June/early July.
As we now all know, that’s what happened.
You can read the full assessment on Mountain Watch.