A mixed bag for Aussie and Kiwi resorts – wind, warm, rain, sleet, snow

Mt Hutt.

The winter of 2020 is officially over but there’s still spring skiing to be had with New South Wales resorts open and talk of Mt Buller reopening when the Victoria lockdown ends.

Meanwhile New Zealand finally got the bigger snow dump they’ve been dancing all season for and there’s plenty of powder smiles.

The next seven days brings a mixed bag of typical late season conditions that have come far too early. But there is hope for more snow on the horizon once we get through the wind and warm temperatures first.

SnowsBest meteorologist, Alex Zadnik, delivers his weekly outlook below.

Australian Snow Outlook

Warm and windy weather is going to be the main theme for the NSW resorts over the next week. The northwest of the Australian continent saw record breaking 41 degree heat in late August and some of this warmer air is now being transported to southeastern Australia as a series of weakening cold fronts move through the Bight. This means that there will be a rapidly eroding snow base through the next seven days, particularly at lower elevations.

For Wednesday 2nd September the NSW resorts can expect strong to gale force northwest winds and relatively high daytime temperatures. Perisher Valley has a forecast maximum of 9 degrees, so the snow will become especially slushy into the afternoon.

Lifts may also go on wind hold at Thredbo and Perisher at some point during the day.

Thursday will also start out warm and slushy on the slopes. Strong winds should moderate a little into the afternoon, but occasional rain showers won’t make for a pleasant day. The atmosphere will gradually cool through the afternoon and evening as a weakening cold front moves through, but probably not enough for any snow below 2000m. Around 5-10mm of rain is likely.

Friday should be a more pleasant day on the slopes, with an easing of winds and clearing of skies. The snow will be soft and slow, so the groomers will be the best bet in the morning.

Saturday should be another reasonable day with light to moderate winds. There is likely to be an increase in cloud cover during the day and isolated rain showers are possible, so prepare accordingly. Day time temperatures will climb well above zero after an overnight freeze, so again the groomed runs will be the go in the morning.

Sunday should see clearer skies and a repeat of the freeze and thaw cycle. After sub zero overnight lows, maximum temperatures will climb to near 10 degrees in Perisher Valley and Thredbo Village. The snow will become very soft and slushy in the afternoon. Overall though it looks like the best day of the weekend for spring skiing given the clearer skies.

The warming trend will continue through Monday and Tuesday, with strengthening northwest winds ahead of a cold front. Maximum temperatures may reach the mid teens on the lower slopes of Thredbo and Perisher on Tuesday, while gale force winds are expected. This combination of extreme warmth and wind will rapidly decrease the snow base.

Rain showers are likely to arrive through Tuesday night and may tend to snow above 1800m on Wednesday as some cooler air makes its presence felt. Winds should also gradually moderate on Wednesday in the wake of a weakening cold front.

The longer term outlook is for a return of warmer and windier weather around Thursday 10th and Friday 11th September, with the risk of some rain. The next chance of any meaningful snow is around Tuesday 15th or Wednesday 16th September, by which time the snow cover will be getting very thin.

Check our detailed 7 day resort forecasts for each resort.

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New Zealand Snow Outlook

The South Island ski fields of the Remarkables, Coronet Peak, Cardrona and Treble Cone received 25-30cm of fresh snow for the first day of spring. Mt Hutt did even better, with 37cm reported in the past 24 hours. Conditions will remain cold through Wednesday, while winds should ease, creating great conditions for skiing and boarding.

On the North Island, Ruapehu may pick up isolated snow showers through Wednesday, while winds may still be fresh to strong at times as the tail end of a frontal system moves through.

Thursday should see a further easing of winds over the North Island, while the South Island should see relatively clear and calm conditions as a large high pressure system moves over the region.

There should be good skiing at all of New Zealand’s ski fields on this day, particularly during the morning.

Temperatures will warm a little into the afternoon, creating slower and softer snow conditions.

The high should bring perfect weather and spring skiing conditions to Ruapehu on Friday. On the South Island, northwest winds will strengthen and cloud cover will increase with the approach of a cold front. Rain is also possible late in the day at the Remarkables, Coronet Peak, Cardrona and Treble Cone. Therefore get out on the slopes early if you plan to ski or board on this day.

Saturday looks like a mixed bag weather wise. Rain will clear from the Southern Alps and isolated snow showers are possible during the day. Rain is likely for Mt Hutt, but could fall as snow about the higher slopes.

Ruapehu will see strong winds and increasing cloud cover. Rain is likely at Ruapehu on Sunday, with heavy snow possible on the upper slopes of Turoa and Whakapapa.

Isolated snow showers are likely across the South Island on Sunday, as fresh to strong south winds bring a blast of colder air. Visibility may be reduced at times with these stronger winds. Cold southwest winds should gradual ease on Monday and skies should start to clear as a new high pressure ridge builds across the nation. It should be a good day to get out for a ski or board.

Tuesday is looking like another perfect day for spring skiing, with mostly clear skies and generally light to moderate winds. The morning will probably offer the nicest conditions.

The longer term outlook is showing the approach of a strong cold front from the Tasman on Wednesday. This is likely to bring warm and windy weather on this day, plus the risk of rain.

Rain should tend to snow later in the week (around Thursday 10th and Friday 11th) as colder air behind the front moves through. Therefore it is probably worth penciling in the weekend of 12th and 13th September for a trip to the ski fields. More on this in next week’s update.


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Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of SnowsBest.com. A long time travel and lifestyle journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN, TIME, Wallpaper*, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She was the Fairfax snow blogger from 2007 to 2017 and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.