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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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winter

Incoming (again)

The snow looks great for the next few days. Lower avalanche risk (remember to check the Mountain Sports Collective website before heading out) and a good freshen up is expected, so the weekend should be awesome.

The Mountainwatch 7 day forecast is for 54 cm at Perisher, 46cm at Hotham and 45 cm at Mt Stirling. Yes, forecasts at 7 days are very unreliable and the expected snowfall tends to trail off as you get closer to the actual day. But it does look healthy. Stay safe and enjoy.

Incoming

What a great start to winter 2018! Those good early falls in May disappeared, but then we got the best snow pack for June in 17 years! And now we have another big system bearing down on us.

As always, forecasts vary, and this far out, they may be more enthusiastic than the reality we will see over the weekend. Let’s hope this system does deliver the goods.

Here’s a quick check at what some of the key snow websites are saying.

If you’re heading out after the storm, be aware that there may be some avalanche risk as the fresh settles on a sun affected layer. Check the Mountain Sports Collective backcountry advisory before you get on the trail.

This one is from MountainWatch.

This is from Snow watch.

This one comes from Jane Bunn:

Big snow system, mainly Saturday, snow up high from Friday. 

A high is moving to the east and cold fronts are approaching. This will make it windy.

We stay dry through to the end of Wednesday, but one of these fronts may produce rain on Thursday (up to 5mm). It is too warm for snow.

A front breaks through on Friday. It starts warm with rain for all resorts, but there is enough cold air for it to snow to 1600 metres at times. Up to 25 mm of precipitation – with 5 to 20 cm of that falling as snow up high.

A stronger front pushes through on Saturday, and this is all cold. Snow falls down to 900 metres with 15 to 30 cm of snow.

So, this brings 20 to 50 cm of snow all up. 

The chance of snow showers on Sunday, the slight chance of snow showers early next week, until the high moves back in.

 

Here it comes

After a fairly ordinary opening weekend, are we finally getting to the real part of winter?

It seems to depend who you talk to but the general answer is YES.

These are the seven day forecasts for Australia from MountainWatch.

This is the one from SnowWatch. Obviously, longer term models become less reliable, with a greater chance of the cold front being shunted off by a blocking High system or weakening, etc. We’ve all had our hearts broken many times by seeing a 15 day forecast that looks mind blowing slowly dissolve into drizzle and a bit of cloud, so do ‘adjust your set’ to prepare yourself for disappointment. But the short term forecast looks great.

The Jane Bunn forecast (via ski.com.au) looks pretty spectacular.

A series of cold fronts is passing through, driven by a complex area of low pressure that slowly moves past, just south of Australia.  

The heavier snow coincides with the colder air. Its still a little warm today (Wednesday) and Thursday, then we are proper cold from Friday. Snow down to 900 metres on Friday and Saturday, lowering to 600 metres for Saturday night and early Sunday.

Northern resorts see the most from this system as the airflow is northwesterly for much of the time. Baw Baw picks up what is left on Monday into Tuesday. 

The high moves in on Tuesday, bringing a return to sunshine.

We’re looking at 40 to 95 cm of snow for northern resorts.

Lets hope this is correct!

Grasshopper says the 2018 snow season will be ‘Not Bad’

The famed Grasshopper has released their first assessment of what the 2018 season may be like. Obviously its early in the year so hard to make definite predictions, but this first one is fairly hopeful.

It is definitely worth a read but the take home message is that:

‘At this early stage, I estimate that we will have a fairly good start to the season, then a slowish late winter. I’m leaving the door open for a spring dump, possibly even a rerun of the ‘Blizzard of Oz’ but that might be going too far. Maximum snow depths should lie within a range of 180-220 cm when comparing to a long-term average of 195 cm at Spencer’s Creek. The potential for artificial snow making may be hampered during the preseason due to warm and wet conditions, but later in the season snow machines will get their chance to shine.’

The next forecast will be released in early May.

 

#ClimateWhiteout: climate change and the Winter Olympics

The Winter Olympics are underway in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Climate and winter sports advocacy groups have been using social media to highlight the expected impacts of global warming on future Winter Olympic sites.

This is not a new story, but research that shows that climate change is likely to make nine former Winter Olympics sites too warm to host the Games again has been circulating using the hashtag #ClimateWhiteout.

Continue reading “#ClimateWhiteout: climate change and the Winter Olympics”

Winter 2018!

As another wave of hot weather beats down on us, of course its time to think about winter. I don’t know about you, but I find that life is crazily busy, so if I don’t lock trips in they don’t happen.

Here are early details on two planned events for winter 2018.

Continue reading “Winter 2018!”

New Zealand’s winter is shorter by a month over 100 years

We all know that climate change poses a grave threat to the amount of snow we will be seeing in Australia in coming years. Historically, average snow depths in the Kosciuszko National Park have shown a downward trend over the last 60 years. Another detail in the story of overall decline in snow pack is the ever later arrival of reliable snow (for instance, how often do you get to ski or ride on ‘Opening’ weekend?).

New research from New Zealand/ Aotearoa collaborates the observation that winter is arriving later and leaving earlier.

Continue reading “New Zealand’s winter is shorter by a month over 100 years”

End of the ski season. Happy New Year

I don’t know about you, but I’m at my best in mid winter. My brain works better, I feel more cheerful, I want to be out amongst it. I crave altitude, snow, rock, ice, and being above tree line.

I always get a bit sad at the end of winter. One way to deal with the sadness is to embrace it, so I try to make sure I’m at Hotham for closing weekend. There’s something so final about last day of the season. As services wind down, the lifts stop spinning, the bus does its last lap of the village, and Dinner Plain and Hotham empty out, I feel like winter is finally over. I’m ready to move on into the next season. Traditional New Years Eve happens in the middle of summer, just after Christmas madness, with hot weather stretching out for months on either side. I find it hard to feel like the year is over as the land just feels the same, caught in the summer doldrums. Whereas end of winter is a physical event. For me, the day after snow season ends is New Years Day, it marks a clear end of one part of the year, and I feel like I can step fully into spring.

Happy New Year, everyone. Only 234 sleeps til winter!

Continue reading “End of the ski season. Happy New Year”

Winter 2017. (Almost) done.

Wow. What a winter. Some forecasters were predicting a ‘slightly better than average’ season, and opening weekend saw skiable snow in the resorts, but then things slowed down for several weeks until we started to get serious snowfalls in July. We had four epic storm fronts during the season, variously called The Blizard of Oz, Snowaggedon 2.0, etc, with the best snowpack in September for 17 years. Most resorts extended their season a week until October 8, and there is still many weeks’ worth of skiing in many parts of the backcountry.

As the season winds down, like most snow addicts I’m already thinking about next year. Personally I had an awesome winter, with a highlight being a road trip from the Snowies to Mt Hotham. But I did a lot of ‘weekend warrior’ drives and now that the snow frenzy is dissipating, I feel like I’ve woken up after a big bender with a hangover and a slight sense of guilt…

Continue reading “Winter 2017. (Almost) done.”

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