The 2020 snow conditions have been just like any other year in Australia – Absent, Unpredictable, Awesome.

Word: Reggae Elliss

Photos: Courtesy of Perisher and Thredbo

While Melbourne skiers are in lock down and Falls and Hotham are closed, you could say they’re not missing much as there has been little or no snow in the Victorian Alps since May.

The Victorian resorts are a stark reminder that nature hasn’t been kind to us this year, much of the terrain looking as green as it does in summer. The snowmakers have managed to get some terrain open in Buller but other than that, there is not much happening in Victoria.

North of the Murray things are much better and while the snow/rain mix and mild temps last week did a fair bit of damage to the snow pack, Perisher, Thredbo and Charlotte pass are open and still have a decent cover.

This is thanks to the 60-90cms of snow that fell on July 13 when an East Coast low directed a moisture laden southeast flow across the Snowy Mountains, dumping heavy snow to low elevations. It snowed down to Jindabyne and beyond, the heavy snow bringing down trees and causing havoc on the roads with both Kosciuszko Road to Perisher and the Alpine Way to Thredbo closed for most of the day.

The East Coast low was in the perfect position and strong enough to keep the temps and freezing levels low enough, so we had snow and not rain. If it was just 100kms further north things would have been different, with milder temps and rain not snow below 1800 metre.

Unfortunately, it was too far north for the Victorian Alps which saw just 12cms overnight on the Sunday. The fact you can see Mt Bogong from the top of Karels in Thredbo made it a frustrating case of close, but not close enough.

The snow totals in NSW were impressive with 50cms in Thredbo Village, altitude 1380 metres and 30cms in the ski tube carpark, 1000 elevation. Above 1800 metres the totals were 90cms, the strong southeast wind blowing in a lot of snow and creating some deep drifts in areas that are usually wind-scoured when the wind is WNW, the typical direction in winter.

The snow was best on Monday morning after 30cms overnight, becoming heavier as the day went on, another 50cms falling by the time the snow eased that night. When the storm cleared we had a week of sunshine with WNW winds, perfect groomed runs and some fun wind-drifts off piste, but with a breakable surface crust you had to hunt them out.

Perisher’s park crew got busy and within a few days the Front valley park was mint, and the Leichhardt park was up and running last week. Overall, we are not talking epic snow conditions as the west snow turned to ice off piste, but if you don’t mind ripping the groomers or lapping the park in the sunshine, last week in NSW was a lot of fun.

There’s snow falling at the moment and it is cold. There was 20cm in Baw Baw yesterday. Buller has had 12cm and there is 10 to 20cm in NSW with waist deep wind drifts. Later in the week we have an unusual weather system hitting the alps that might bring over 50cm. Let’s hope this is just the beginning and the season powers on past lock down and we all get a chance to shred this season.


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