World Snow News 46

World Snow News Update for July 18th 2008

Welcome to the latest roundup of worldwide snow conditions and weather prospects for the week ahead from in association with Iglu Ski. For extra details about current snow conditions, see the latest summary of conditions from Skiclub of GB, updated twice each week during the ski season.

Good to excellent snow conditions and the prospect of widespread new snowfalls for almost all resorts in Australia and New Zealand and South America. As expected, most glacier resorts in the European Alps have seen as much as 20 cm of fresh summer snow at the start of the week.

In the Atlantic, winds around hurricane Bertha have briefly eased to around 60 knots and its status has been relegated to the status of a tropical storm. It may regain category one hurricane status when it briefly crosses warm Atlantic water as it moves away from Bermuda and the American coast. It will weaken once again as it drifts over cooler waters this weekend. With an age of 13 days so far, Bertha is notable in that it is already the longest lived July storm in history. Indeed, it has been such a powerful and long-lived mid-ocean storm that large long period swells will continue to affect Atlantic coastal areas for another week. Looking especially good for surf breaks from Florida to New Jersey in the days ahead although dangerous rips have already been blamed for one fatality. See for more details.

Apart from the fact that many skiers and snowboarders also surf, there is another good reason for mentioning hurricanes in an editorial about snow and that is because the remnants of Altantic hurricanes often drift towards Europe, sometimes as unseasonably vigorous depressions. When the Azores High remains well to the west of Europe as has been the pattern this summer, these systems tend to run up the Eastern seaboard of North America into the Arctic. From here they sometimes continue down through Scandinavia into central Europe where they dump heavy early season snowfall on the Alpine glaciers. High pressure over Scandinavia will deflect the remains of hurricane Bertha to the north of Europe.

It is only mid-July and in the eastern Pacific active hurricane Elida and tropical storm Fausto are further evidence that 2008 is shaping up to be a busy season compared to last years subdued la Nina year. See the Mexico forecast maps from

Also in the Pacific, a typhoon named Kalmaegi south of Taiwan is expected to make land in Taiwan over the next 12 hours becoming the islands first major storm of the year.

Snow-forecast Site news:

The historical snow graphs and snow reports for the period between April 2007 and April 2008 have been added. A cursory glance at the statistics reveals that the 07/08 northern season was less remarkable than it seemed, both in terms of temperature and snowfall. Although there were some new snow records set at several Rockies resorts, overall it was more of a return to the kind of reliable snow conditions that were prevalent just a decade before. It only seemed remarkable because we have become accustomed to second rate ski seasons.

Ski resort news:

We continue to add resorts to our database, no matter how obscure and if there is a bigger or more comprehensive resource on the internet, we are not aware of it. The latest resort to be added is Afri-Ski, a small but popular ski resort in Lesotho at over 3000 m. Maintaining our database of resort information for over 2200 ski resorts around the world is a time-consuming process and we are extremely grateful for corrections and updates sent in by users, including employees and managers of resorts. Eastern Europe, Russia and China continue to provide a steady stream of entirely new resorts to keep us busy. The latest we have heard about is the proposal for a resort called Mechi Chal in Bulgaria, due to be constructed over the next five years in the country's Rhodope Mountains. The resort is ear-marked for a small existing ski hill close to the town of Chepelare where the existing lift will be renovated at the first stage of a 50 million Euro investment. The ski area should be operational for the coming winter with a second lift, 2.7 km long, installed and a new 3.5 km long ski run with snow making. During the next three years a third lift, 3 km long, will be built along with a sports centre in Chepelare, and another 3-km long lift. Locals have welcomed the new ski area plan as, unusually for Bulgaria, the local community is reported to have a 50 percent share in the development alongside private investors.

Telluride Ski Resort has announced the opening of new terrain named Revelation Bowl for the 2008–09 winter season. This "European-style terrain" (by which they mean above the trees), located directly off the back side of famous Gold Hill and Chair 14, will be served by a new, locally manufactured Leitner-Poma quad-lift. Situated above tree line, the natural, wide-open bowl offers advanced and expert skiing in beautiful scenery. Descending into the bowl, skiers and riders will be able to choose ridgelines in either direction, offering steeper pitches and rock features on the far sides of the powder bowl. The centre provides an expanse of rolling, advanced terrain with a groomed path for cruising. All told, the resort is expanding terrain by nearly 400 acres this year, and now offers a bigger lift served vertical of 1172 m (3845 feet). The resort's vertical drop places it fifth in the US and ninth on the continent in terms of lift-served vertical.

For your diary:

British skiers may want to check their diaries to see if they can get to London in the middle of October. World famous extreme skier and mountaineer – Chris Davenport of Aspen Colorado will be in the UK for one night only to host an exclusive evening dedicated to his awe inspiring skiing adventures around the globe entitled "Skiing the World's Greatest Mountains". The Ski Club of Great Britain are teaming up with Helly Hansen and Snow+Rock to present the one-off lecture at the historic Royal Geographic Society in London at 7pm on Friday 17th October. Chris, a former alpine downhill racer is now a freeskier who has featured in over a dozen ski films, including those from Warren Miller Entertainment and Matchstick Productions. Chris is also a TV reporter and a commentator for ESPN and ABC Sports. He is an avid mountaineer, with ascents of summits around the globe under his belt. Chris has climbed to 8000 meters on Makalu in the Himalaya, skied in Denali National Park, as well as the Andes in Chile, and the Southern Alps of New Zealand. "I am thrilled to finally have the opportunity to give my wonderful presentation about skiing the world's great mountains to folks in the UK. I hope they will be as inspired as the many others I have spoken to over the years," said Chris Davenport. Chris will be talking through some of his most memorable backcountry expeditions accompanied with stunning visuals from some of the world's most famous peaks. The audience will see and hear the story of his personal challenge to become the first ever person to climb and ski all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-ft peaks within one year. Tickets go on sale on August 8th and cost £10 for adults (£8 for Ski Club members), £6 for under 18s (£5 for Ski Club members). Book tickets via: Snow+Rock: 0845 100 1000 or Ski Club: /

Christchurch will play host to a rail jam on a purpose built structure right in the middle of the city, providing exciting spectator action on Saturday 9th August. The 2nd Annual SkullCandy Winter Rail Jam will see around 100 freestyle skiers and snowboarders who expected take part in the event which offers prizes valued at more than $5,500 (NZ) for top tricks and aerials as judged by an expert panel. Snow is being shipped into the Strip (Oxford Terrace) from Mt Hutt to cover a 4.5 m high structure for the event. A DJ will provide the soundtrack while MC Mana from New Zealand band Rhombus will host the event. $2,500 worth of prizes are up for grabs by spectators with the main prize going to the spectator in the best retro ski outfit. Attendance is free of charge.


  • It has been a quiet week for weather in New Zealand with a little fresh snow about last weekend
    • Ohau saw 30 cm and Cardrona saw 25 cm of fresh snow last Saturday
    • Most South Island ski resorts received about 10 cm of fresh snow
    • Wind and rain last weekend caused some snow loss at all four North Island resorts
    • Becoming much more unsettled this weekend
    • Further mildness affecting North Island resorts until Sunday
    • Expect a southerly to bring further snowfalls at most resorts on Tuesday, including Ruapehu
    • The weather should become fine and frosty after mid-week
  • In Australia there are currently excellent snow conditions
    • It has been an unsettled and often snowy week
    • Enough snow has fallen for Mount Baw Baw to open
    • Another active front will cross the region this weekend
    • Fine weather and fresh tracks for the start of the new week
  • SOUTH AMERICA offers better conditions than last week
    • Most resorts saw moderate fresh snowfalls last weekend
    • Our latest forecast indicates heavy snow is falling at Las Lenas
    • Further snow at the weekend, more especially for resorts near Santiago
    • Another snowfall for many next week

The Alps

Last time we mentioned the prospect of fresh snow for glaciers of the European Alps. Zermatt and Cervinia saw 20 cm of fresh snow at the start of this week while nearby Saas Fee saw 15 cm, as did Val Senales in Italy. Cool northerly air flows across the British Isles and down about as far as the Alps until about Monday when the Azores High extends a ridge of fine weather into Western Europe and even Britain gets to enjoy a few summery days.

New Zealand

Once the weekend gales had abated and the rain had stopped lashing the North Island resorts, New Zealand has had a fairly quiet week of weather. It has been perfect for making the most of the last week of the winter school holidays and the only downside has been the fact that lodge accommodation at some club fields like Broken River has been booked up. If the prospect of spending the night sleeping in a tent, followed by the humiliation of being overtaken by packs knee high speed demons was too much for you too, don't worry because we are expecting more great skiing conditions in the week ahead. Mid-week looks especially promising.

Our previous forecast stressed that not everywhere would avoid the consequences of a warm and wet weekend nowester. Not surprisingly, Taranaki caught the worst of it and it really bucketed down on the slopes with some snow loss at Manganui. Similarly, across the adjacent NW Nelson, the Tasman mountains have lost most of their 1.5 m deep snow cover. On Ruapehu, there was enough rain to damage the mountain access road at Turoa, but higher up the deep snow base has survived albeit at a slightly reduced depth of 1–2 m. Not surprisingly, where rain got into the snowpack, snow conditions were described as hard first thing and softening as the day went on. Further south, conditions didn't deteriorate at all and according to the official report Rainbow actually reported 2 cm of snow out of that same norwester rather than the rain we expected. Ohau and Cardrona did best of all with no rain and 25 cm to 30 cm of fresh snow on Saturday. Other South Island resorts all saw some fresh snow and 10–15 cm was enough to freshen things from Mt Lyford in the north to Mt Dobson in the South. 10–15 cm fell at the Southern lakes ski areas and the Remarkables saw another dusting on Tuesday too.

With atmospheric pressure falling again, New Zealand will see a return of unsettled conditions. Two lows will cross the country of the next 5 days. The first will be a pretty modest affair with wafty winds and a mix of scattered rain and snow with fairly high freezing levels over the top of the South Island and North Island. Manganui, Turoa and Whakapapa again look vulnerable to the effects of being hit by mild and wet winds but not to the same degree as last time. For most of the next week the freezing level on Ruapehu will vary between the summit and the car park. On Thusday night we expect snow to briefly fall down to about 2000 m but on Friday night and Saturday morning the next mild spell, accompanied by a strong northerly wind, looks like it may coincide with precipitation and there is a risk that some rain will again get into the snowpack below about 2500 m. Turning colder late on Saturday and any further precipitation over the next few days will be snow rather than rain.

The second depression to affect New Zealand is expected to cross Southland on Tuesday, preceded by a strengthening NW wind that may cause some snow loss at prone places like Porters. This passing depression should certainly be vigorous enough to deliver a couple of cold fronts that will move right up through the east side of the country although at this stage it doesn't look like the wintry blast will be quite as severe as two weeks ago. Even so, winds from the south and south east look like they will bring snow to many resorts in the South Island and settling to near sea level for a time from Southland to Canterbury. At this stage it looks like Fox Peak, which opens for the season on Saturday 12th, and Mt Dobson may well see the best of any snow but it is too far out to be confident of the distribution. Mt Hutt usually achieves more snow than the weather models predict. Expect two of three cold and fine days as the the depression moves away into the South Pacific and is replaced by a high from the Tasman Sea.


Another week of steady improvement at Australian resorts. Last weekend was notably cold over much of Victoria and New South Wales. Enough snow has fallen for Mount Baw Baw to open for the first time this season with about 25 cm of cover. This is good news for the Melbourne locals who don't relish the long drive to the more snowsure resorts further inland. With about 75 cm of cover, Perisher Blue offers the most open terrain in Australia while the upper slopes of Mount Buller probably have the deepest cover in Australia at present, now at almost 1 metre on the upper runs. The only resort that still needs more snow before it can open is Ben Lomond in Australia. Unfortunately the lower altitude and maritime climate has made for some rain rather than snow in the Tasmanian ranges.

A weak cold front with snow showers is crossing the Snowy Mountains on Thursday night. The next front is much more active and it will cross the region from the west this weekend reaching Thredbo and Perisher Blue on Sunday afternoon. Expect strong winds and snow. Make the most of the weather window here on Saturday, especially early on before the wind freshens. Remaining cool with increasingly scattered snow showers for most of next week with free air freezing levels eventually climbing above the summits on Friday. Still breezy on Monday.

South America

Last week we forecast that Portillo would see a reasonable snowfall of about 20 cm on Saturday. The 30 cm fall that they actually recorded on Saturday was a third better than expected. Meanwhile at Valle Nevado and La Parva 200 km away we forecast about 15 cm of snow and the 10 cm recorded there was just a third less than we predicted. Either way, enough snow fell that most resorts in Chile reported top to bottom fresh powder conditions at the start of the week. Chapa Verde is a notable exception in that it is not yet open for their winter season. Our forecast suggest that there is light snow around the Santiago resorts at the moment but nothing like as much as is falling at Las Lenas. On Sunday, we expect the reverse to be true and for heavy snow to fall at the Chilean resorts with only modest snowfalls at Las Lenas. Further snow on Tuesday night. Becoming a few degrees warmer for the second half of the week.

We owe an apology to our Argentinian readers. In last weeks roundup we neglected to mention that two days before, on Tuesday 8th July, heavy snow had fallen at beautiful Cerro Catedral. A report that Cerro Catedral had received an amazing 55 cm from skiclub didn't reach us in time to make the editorial. We would have mentioned it because it was the most notable new snow at any South American resort that week and marked a major turnaround at Cerro Catedral where the early season had been both mild and often windy with too little snow for skiing. However, we subsequently learned that the report of 55 cm of fresh snow was an exageration because we also received an independent report that 35 cm had fallen at the top with just 15 cm at the base. This is much more in line with our forecast. In the absence of a current snow report for this or any other resort, we would like to remind all members that they can access hindcast forecasts by clicking the historical snow links on each resort forecast page. For example, just to verify that the snow report for Cerro Catedral was plausible, members can click for a hindcast. which in this case was for a corresponding snowfall of just 17 cm plus whatever fell from showers. We are always looking for volunteers to submit snow reports and we are grateful to everyone who has helped so far. By registering as a snow reporter, as long as you submit occasional reports, we will extend your membership for free.

As in Chile, ski resorts in Argentina also saw the modest weekend snowfalls that we expected and by Monday it certainly has improved things on the upper slopes in places like Las Lenas. A week ago we mentioned a longer range forecast for further snow at the end of this week which is about now. The forecast seems to have been accurate but as the time approached, updates called for heavier snowfall. Although we have no current reports we are confident that heavy snow is falling to about 2100 m at Las Lenas. Further snow is expected on Sunday and again on Tuesday.

The snow-forecast team