Look out, BIG snow ahead for Australia and New Zealand

Perisher, NSW

Thredbo and Charlotte Pass have joined the Victorian resorts and now closed for the season in Australia, while Perisher remains open with a good dump of fresh snow on the way this Friday.

This weekend and Monday are likely to offer great skiing at Perisher, albeit with reduced visibility on Saturday. Heavy rain is a risk mid next week, so you’d want to make the most of this weekend if you can.

Wild weather is ahead for New Zealand, with a few small windows for good skiing. Queenstown and Wanaka areas (Treble Cone is closed for the season) will see blizzard conditions on Sunday, so Monday or Tuesday may be good options for power hunters as winds gradually ease.

Australian Snow Outlook – issued 23rd September

Perisher remains the only resort with lifts spinning in Australia, due to a rapid decline in the snow base through September. Backcountry skiing is limited to areas above around 1900 metres, and even then, only south facing aspects have sufficient cover.

There is a decent dump of fresh snow on the way for Friday and Saturday, with a significant blast of cold air and precipitation on its way from the Southern Ocean. The heaviest snow falls are likely during Friday, with more than 30cm expected at Buller, Hotham, Falls Creek, Thredbo and Perisher.

Another 5-10cm is possible during Saturday as snow showers ease. Totals at Baw Baw will generally be less than 30cm across the two day period, as it will be sheltered from the initial west/northwest airflow.

The snow will fall to low levels (i.e. below 1000 metres) at times on Friday, before gradually retreating to around 1300m on Saturday.

The cold nature of the airmass should result in high quality powder snow.

Fresh to strong winds are expected to develop later on Friday and persist into Saturday morning, before a gradual easing through the day. Saturday will still be a very good day at Perisher despite reduced visibility at times.

Sunday will also be a great day at Perisher, with a further easing of winds and clearing of skies. Temperatures may edge above zero in the afternoon, so the morning will be the best time to seek out any remaining powder stashes. Visibility should also improve at Thredbo, Hotham, Falls and Buller. Baw Baw may see lingering cloud cover.

Monday will be another nice day in the mountains, with light winds and mostly clear skies due to the presence of a large high pressure system over Victoria and NSW. Temperatures will rise above zero through the day, creating soft spring skiing conditions into the afternoon.

This high will move out over the Tasman Sea on Tuesday and a front will approach from the west. This will cause warm northerly winds to increase in strength through the day, while day time temperatures rise rapidly. Therefore the morning will be the best time to hit the groomed runs at Perisher.

The next front looks like generating heavy rain for the mountains mid next week, including Perisher. This would really hurt the fresh snow coverage. Therefore, make the most of this Saturday, Sunday and Monday, as these days look like offering the last good skiing conditions of the 2020 Australian season.

Check the 7 day forecast for more. 

New Zealand Snow Outlook – issued 23rd September

A large frontal system is approaching New Zealand from the Tasman Sea today, bringing warm, windy and wet conditions to the upper South Island and North Island.

Lift operations were impacted at Turoa and Whakapapa due to the inclement conditions, and Mt Hutt had a delayed start to the morning. Rain will become heavier over Ruapehu into Thursday, so it looks like being another lay day for North Island skiers and boarders.

The lower South Island will see isolated showers become more frequent during Thursday and tend to snow late in the day for the Remarkables, Treble Cone, Cardrona and Coronet Peak as a low pressure centre passes by the region.

Totals are difficult to predict based on the dynamic nature of the low, but 10cm of fresh snow is possible by Friday morning.

Friday probably offers the best window for getting out for a ski or board in coming days, with a break between weather systems. On Saturday, winds will strengthen and cloud cover will increase across the nation with the approach of another large frontal system from the west. The morning may be okay, but conditions will deteriorate into the afternoon.

Strong to gale-force winds are likely across New Zealand on Sunday as the large and powerful frontal system sweeps through. Heavy rain is likely for Ruapehu through most of Sunday, but it may tend to snow late in the day. Likewise, heavy rain is likely at Mt Hutt in the morning, but it should tend to snow during the afternoon and evening.

Colder air will reach the lower South Island earlier on Sunday, so snow prospects are much better for the Remarkables, Coronet Peak, Cardrona and Treble Cone.

50-100cm of fresh snow is possible during Sunday, although blizzard conditions will probably prevent any skiing or boarding on this day.

Strong and bitterly cold southwest winds will continue for these ski fields on Monday, but may ease enough to get out for a few runs. Another 10-20cm of fresh powder is possible on Monday in the wake of the front. Tuesday will be a similar day for the Southern Alps, with lingering snow showers and fresh to strong southwest winds.

Mt Hutt and Ruapehu probably won’t see as much snow as further south, but weather conditions should also moderate for these ski areas on Tuesday.

Wednesday next week should offer more pleasant weather conditions, with a high pressure system bringing a temporary easing of winds. Temperatures will rise above zero into the afternoon, so make the most of the morning for firmer conditions underfoot.

A third frontal system is likely to bring a return of strong winds and rain for Thursday 1st October, so make the most of any favourable weather windows before then.

Check the 7 day forecast for more. 

READ MORE
This ski super home in Queenstown New Zealand could be yours

mm
Alex Zadnik is a complete weather nerd and proud of it. A keen skier who chases the powder globally, he is the resident meteorologist for MetraWeather and has an impressive weather pedigree providing commentary for Australia's leading radio and television weather networks and now SnowsBest.com.