Last week, the big news was the arrival of badly-needed snow in both the central Andes and the Snowy Mountains of Australia. This week, we’re back to the theme that has dominated winter so far in the southern hemisphere – the cold, snowy season in New Zealand.
Above Queenstown, the resort of The Remarkables had 15cm of new snow at the weekend, and another 15cm yesterday. High winds have been a problem over the whole country, but they’ve dropped off now, and a brief interlude of sunny weather is expected before the snow returns on Thursday.
Here’s how it was looking this morning.
The Remarkables currently has a settled snow pack of 100-150cm of snow across its slopes. Nearby, Coronet Peak has 75-175cm of snow, and above Lake Wanaka, Treble Cone has 83-200cm. And if you think this kind of consistent winter weather is normal for New Zealand, think again. Its maritime climate is usually much too flukey for that.
This year is different. The Pacific Ocean climate anomaly known as El Niño has taken control of the weather, and is dragging cold southerly winds across NZ on a regular basis. It’s been a tough season for farmers: but up high, on the slopes, the smiles are a mile wild.
There’s been snow on the North Island too – accompanied by fierce winds. This shot was posted on Mt Ruapehu’s Facebook page on Sunday.
Meanwhile, in the central Andes, the excitement is dying back after the big season-saving dump of early July, which saw 170cm of snow fall in Portillo, Chile, by July 13. Portillo opened for the season on July 18. Valle Nevado, which is also near Santiago, opened on July 15 – over a month later than it did in 2014.
Here’s how Valle Nevado looked on Monday.
To really get the season going, they could do with more snow this week – but in the Santiago area that looks unlikely. If you’re thinking of heading down there, it’s probably a good idea to aim for resorts further south, which have had more consistent snowfall so far this winter.
Finally, in south-eastern Australia, the cold snowy spell which began on July 9 came to an end on July 16, and it’s been sunny since then. Needless to say – thanks to 50-60cm of fresh snow – everyone’s tail is up. Including these guys, who got out on the slopes of Thredbo last Friday morning.
Annoyingly, temperatures have risen since then, and there could be some rain at lower elevations over the next few days. However, another cold snap is due on Sunday, and there could be some more snow.
Meanwhile, in the Alps, the hot summer continues
In the Alps, the summer so far has been quite a contrast to the one they had last year – which was wet, grey and cool. However, some would say the pendulum has swung too far the other way, with temperatures at 1000m regularly up to +30C – which is rather warm for biking or trail-running. The long heat wave has also had a big impact on the quality of cover on the glaciers, which are pretty threadbare right now, and desperately need fresh snow. Here’s how the Grande Motte glacier above Tignes was looking this morning…
The rest of the week will see sunny mornings and gathering clouds after lunch, which could produce some thunderstorms.
And the top-to-bottom Mountain of Hell downhill race on Sunday.
|France: Two other French glaciers are still open for summer skiing: Tignes (until August 9) and Les Deux Alpes (until Aug 29).|
|Switzerland: currently Zermatt reports 130cm of snow at 2900m. Here, 17 lifts are currently open, serving 14 pistes.|
|Austria: two glaciers are currently open in Austria for skiing – Hintertux, and the Molltal. On the Hintertux glacier, the snow is up to 165cm deep on the pistes, and 18km of pistes are open.|
|Italy: there’s now lift access from Cervinia to the high-altitude pistes between Italy and Switzerland.|
|Andorra: Andorra’s ski resorts have now closed for skiing.|
|Western USA: In Colorado Arapahoe Basin has now closed at the end of another very long season. It’ll be open again in October.|
|Western Canada: in Whistler the short glacier season on Blackcomb mountain began on June 20 and will run until July 26.|