On the other side of the planet, winter is getting its act together.
The most promising start has been in New Zealand, which is expecting a colder-than-average winter thanks to El Niño. The Pacific Ocean climate anomaly has been building in the Pacific, and chilly southerly winds over NZ are expected to be one of its effects.
Of course, there’s no guarantee the weather will stick to the script. But the pre-season has been promising, to say the least.
Regular followers of the Snow Report will know there was a 30-50cm dump in the resorts of the South Island last week. Since then, there’s been another cold snap (which has allowed the snow cannons to run for several days), and today there’s been another top-up from Mother Nature.
This was The Remarkables earlier today, near Queenstown.
The Facebook caption:
“OOOh Shreddie get out of the snow before you go right under!”
“Yeah I’m keeping my hands high so I don’t lose any more fingers.”
5cm of the white stuff had fallen when Shreddie and his mate got into trouble today, and more was expected.
Mount Hutt will be the first ski area to open, on June 12, followed by followed by Coronet Peak on June 13, Cardrona on June 19, and The Remarks and Broken River on June 20. Snow depths are encouraging. The Remarkables already claims a 50-70cm base on the trails, Mount Hutt has 10-15cm and Cardrona 30-55cm.
In Australia the season is starting early, thanks to 30cm of snow
The prognosis for Australia’s ski season isn’t nearly as good as it is for NZ – because in south-eastern Australia (home to the Snowy Mountains), El Niño winters tend to be drier than normal.
It’s been cold too. In Perisher, night-time temperatures have hit -9C and 198 snow cannons have been running flat out to load the trails. As a result, it’s opening a day earlier than expected, on Friday, June 5. Don’t expect an ocean of snow, though. Only two chairlifts, along with a handful of beginner lifts, will definitely be running this weekend (more may open if conditions allow). But all the same, it’s one in the eye for the doomsayers…
There’s been snow in the Andes too
Pictured above is Valle Nevado, Chile, last Friday. This was the first proper snowfall of winter: but hopes are high for a good season, as El Niño winters in central Chile tend to be wetter than normal. Valle Nevado will be opening later this month.
Meanwhile in the Alps…
It’s not just the southern hemisphere that’s seeing the start of a new ski season this weekend. In the Alps, summer skiing gets underway on Saturday, too.
First up is the Pisaillas glacier, at the eastern end of Val d’Isere. The lifts here open on June 5 – only five weeks after they closed at the end of “winter” on May 3. France’s ski teams are amongst those who’ll be skiing there during the six-week summer season, which runs until July 12.
Pictured above is how it’s looking just beneath the Pisaillas glacier today. Note the clouds. It’s a hot day today (the freezing point is at 4000m), the pressure’s not that high, and the next few days could see afternoon thunderstorms.
Elsewhere in the Alps, a handful of glacier ski areas have been running non-stop through the late spring. The Stubai glacier, south of Innsbruck is among them – and it’s been the scene of some stunning freestyle action over the last week, courtesy of a Legs of Steel film production.
These are some of the features they’ve been using…
The Stubai closes for its summer break on July 3.
|France: French ski resorts are now closed, but the glaciers above Val d’Isere (June 6 – July 12), Les Deux Alpes (June 20 – Aug 29), and Tignes (June 27 – August 9) will soon be open for their short summer seasons.|
|Switzerland: currently Zermatt reports 190cm of snow at 2900m. Here, nine lifts are currently open.|
|Austria: three glaciers are currently open in Austria for skiing – the Hintertux, the Stubai and the Kaunertal – although the Kaunertal closes for the summer on Sunday. On the Hintertux glacier, the snow is up to 270cm deep on the pistes.|
|Italy: Cervinia is currently closed, but there will be access to the glacier above Zermatt from June 27.|
|Andorra: Andorra’s ski resorts have now closed for skiing.|
|Western USA: In Colorado Arapahoe Basin finally finishes seven-day-a-week operations on June 7. However it will open again for one more weekend, from June 12-14. Currently, there’s 122cm of settled mid-mountain cover.|
|Western Canada: Whistler has now shut the lifts on both Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. They’ll reopen to skiers on Blackcomb mountain on June 20 for the short glacier season.|