World Snow News 49

World Snow News 49

World Snow News Update for August 8th 2008

Welcome to the 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.

Brief summary

The 2008 Southern season has managed to follow the excellent 2007 Northern ski season insofar as it is nearly impossible to be in the wrong place fro great skiing. Pretty much everywhere in Australia, New Zealand, Chile and Argentina are reporting good to excellent conditions and a few resorts on the South Island of New Zealand are claiming the snow is as good as they have ever experienced thanks to some very unusual precipitation patterns.

Ski resort news:

My Lyford is hosting the Rip Curl Snow & Surf this weekend (9th & 10th August). They certainly have the perfect snow conditions, but will the nearby Pacific coast provide the surf too? According to our sister site it is looking good for Mangumanu, especially on Sunday. You'll need a good suit though because according to the latest satellite measurements the current sea temperature is a chilly 10.5C and the air temperature at the weekend won't be more than 9 degrees. Surf-forecast provides detailed Tide times for nearby Kaikoura. New Zealand is one of the few places in the world where you can easily surf and snowboard on the same day.

The Cadbury Moro Freestyle Series - Nitro/Elan Jib Nationals take place at Turoa on Saturday.

Kitzbühel will install a new detachable quad chairlift "Ganslern" servicing the original Streif World Cup slope in advance of the coming season. This lift, which replaces a double chairlift on the route, will be; ideal for all races, organisation and for the Kitzbüheler Ski Club at any time. In addition a new eight seater gondola on the Bichlalm is currently in the planning stage with the aim of completing and opening it at some point during the 2008/09 season. Currently there is no lift providing access to the ski area Bichlalm following the closure of the single chair which operated on that route in 2005. Currently the Kitzbughel Lift company is negotiating with land owners over the gondola project. Snowmaking will also be enhanced with new reservoirs Jochberg/Wagstätt and Usterkar ensuring snow-covered trails in the Jochberg-Hahnenkamm-Pengelstein within 60 hrs. Snowmaking facilities on Steinbergkogel/Griesalm will also be completed and there will be trail improvements Finally there will be enhanced rider comfort on the quad chair Hochsaukaser with a loading conveyor installed to ensure quicker rides.

A new gondola began operating from one of Spain’s leading resorts, Baqueira/Beret, last Saturday August 2nd. The new gondola, which was first initiated in 2005/6, helps to open up the Vall De Ruda by connecting the main resort at 1500m with the Ruda area and incorporating a new intermediate station en route, which should ease congestion. The lift has 78 cabins each of which can hold nine people, and the total capacity is 3000 skiers per hour.

Last, the schedule for the 2010 Winter Olympics has been announced and tickets go on sale in just two months. Meanwhile, if you want to see what current weather conditions are like in and around Beijing or view the forecast click here.


  • NEW ZEALAND weather has become much less stormy
    • Light snowfalls and light winds have been the theme at many resorts
    • With 3.5m base, Mt Lyford is probably the snowiest resort in the Southern Hemisphere
    • A cold southerly moves up the east coast on Friday and Saturday
    • Snow will fall to low levels but it will not be very heavy
    • A return to a typical winter weather pattern next week
    • Weather systems from the Tasman will bring snow and strong NW winds next week
  • Further snowfalls in store for Australian ski resorts
    • Last weekend was snowy - Perisher Blue received 35cm over 24 hours
    • Another band of Snow is crossing the Alpine region on Thursday
    • Cold with snow showers on Friday and Saturday
    • Another cold front on Sunday brings wind and snow
    • More of the same next week
  • Resorts in Argentina and Chile saw heavy snow last weekend
    • Wind has affected the snow at some resorts, but the week began mostly fine
    • Expect fresh snow this weekend at southern resorts
    • More widespread snow in the middle of next week

The Alps

Early this week was very warm and mostly sunny across the glaciers of the Alps. Too warm in fact. In France Val d'Isere has closed for the summer ski season while in Italy the Presena Glacier is also closed due insufficient snow depth, as is the Stubai glacier in Austria. The other glacier resorts are open for business but as usual at this time of year, early skiing is essential to avoid the wet and heavy afternoon snow. Thursday is cloudier and afternoon showers are probable. Low pressure looks like it will take up residence close to the British Isles for the week ahead but the associated cool NW air does not look likely to have any lasting influence over the Alps. Showers on Thursday and Friday with some snowfall possible in Zermatt but rain showers elsewhere. The weekend looks like it should be generally fine. On Tuesday morning Tignes and Zermatt may see some fresh snow with lower temperatures to follow and scattered light snowfalls for the remainder of the week above about 3000m.

New Zealand

With the single exception of great spring skiing conditions around Broken River, the 2007 ski season was far from ideal in parts of New Zealand. It was so marginal that Temple Basin did not open at all and Mt Olympus only opened fleetingly. The 2008 season began at the end of a long drought but as soon as La Nina pattern ended things improved very quickly. Since mid-June New Zealand has had some superb conditions. The only caveats being that the weather has been a bit too wild at times in the north - record snowfalls one day, rain and severe gales the next. Central ski resorts from Mt Lyford to Arthurs Pass and Mt Hutt have been excellent right from the start - certainly the sweet spot this season. Three weeks ago, heavy falls in the Mackenzie district brought about dramatic improvements to places like Fox Peak, Mt Dobson, Round Hill, Ohau and Alpure Peaks too. Further south it has been a fairly average winter with fewer heavy snowfalls but less wind and more fine weather too. Calling it average should be put in context - an average ski season in the Southern Lakes region is very good by most standards but the prevailingly dry central Otago climate can limit the scope for big-dump off-piste days. When they do happen, the snow tends to be drier and closer to powder than anywhere else in New Zealand.

The last of a sequence of very severe storms moved away from central South Island on August 1st - a week ago. In some areas of the top of the south this was the most destructive storm for several decades. Apart from serious problems from landslips, flooding and stormy winds across Canterbury, Marlborough and Nelson the other legacy of this tropical system was some impressive snowfalls at the ski resorts in these areas. Mount Hutt and Porters received about 75cm of snow in a 24hr period and Mt Lyford received over 1 metre - all the remarkable because this was fairly wet stuff. At nearby lower elevations up to 20cm of rain was recorded from this weather system. Mount Hutt has also got dumped on to the tune of more than 2m of snow in the space of a week and nearby Porters has declared these are the best conditions it has ever had. Further snowfalls of as much as 35cm at Mt Olympus on Tuesday and 25cm at Mt Lyford in the past 24hrs brings the snow-base for all resorts in this area to between 2.5m and 3.5m. Unless there is a prolonged spell of warm NW winds, this kind of snow base should guarantee that the 2008 ski season runs well into October and beyond. We are not aware that Mt Lyford has ever opened at Christmas, but if they get just one more big snowfall, it may be possible. Mount Hutt traditionally tries to stay open as late as the snow permits whereas at the club fields this is not always practical once visitor numbers drop off. Expect a very late season at Mount Hutt this year. The Southern Lakes region saw several centimetres of snow on Monday and Tuesday - enough to freshen up the pistes but snow bases remain at a relatively modest 80cm to 1m, typical for the time of year. Mount Dobson was closed on Monday due to heavy snow bringing the total for the 7 day period there to over 1m.

The North Island resorts of Turoa, Whakapapa and Tukino on the slopes of Mount Ruapehu have had a very variable ski season so far. It began late but when it did begin so much snow fell over such a short period that it looked as if it could be the best season ever. At one point, snow 5m deep was reported from parts of Tukino on the east side of the magic mountain. Unfortunately, some of the snow was subsequently lost to rain and wind and even upper snow depth graphs rapidly went into a decline. Several severe storm cycles later and the balance has tipped back to net gains in snow depth. On Thursday they reported a 2.5m base from Turoa and Whakapapa (less at Tukino), 5 to 7cm of fresh snow from Wednesday night and bright sunshine, although Turoa was icy off-piste. We are increasingly optimistic about late season conditions here too - our historical snow graph for Turoa shows that they did not achieve this much depth at any time in 2007 and despite the occasional set back the 2008 season is probably the best since 2004, maybe earlier. As long as there is no repeat of last years unusually windy spring, they should see great skiing into November. As is often the case, Manganui has had a similar variable ski season. Being lower and much more maritime in aspect (an area that is far better known for surfing), they suffered greater snow loss during mild spells. They too have improved of late although the 75cm of base still looks shallow enough to be vulnerable to a mild and wet nor'westers. We mention this because one looks likely to develop on Tuesday followed by another on Thursday as lows approach from the Tasman. As always, be extra careful of the freeze thaw cycle that makes Mount Taranaki the most dangerous in New Zealand - treacherous icy crusts and unbonded fresh snowfalls are the norm here.

Before a westerly storm cycle returns next week, the New Zealand weather will remains subdued for a few more days. Friday and Saturday sees a cold southerly work its way up the east coast with light snow to near sea level in Otago and Southland and a dusting for the Southern Lakes ski resorts, a little heavier for Fox Peak, Mount Hutt, Porters and other resorts closer to the Canterbury plains as well as Ruapehu and the eastern ranges of North Island. A spell of mostly sunny weather follows the passage of this front. A Tasman sea low pressure system crosses the top of South Island on Tuesday and there is a chance that both Taranaki and Ruapehu will see brief rain on Monday on lower slopes as the low approaches - a close call as freezing levels briefly nudge 1700m. On thing that we are sure of is that the wind will be strong on the upper mountains. Further south, another spell of north easterly winds will bring more snow to the top of the south. Rainbow, Hanmer, Mount Lyford and maybe even Mount Hutt should see this. Westerly winds will bring lower temperatures and further snowfalls to Ruapehu and Taranaki mid-week before a much deeper low approaches South Island next Thursday. It is possible that strong and gusty NW winds may a problem for many South Island resorts late in the week - right down to the Southern Lakes region. The good news is that the airmass should not be warm despite the wind direction, so Thursday and Friday should bring significant snow to South Island, rather than rain. These rising NW winds reach Ruapehu a day later.


Mount Hotham saw 28cm of fresh snow last weekend while Perisher Blue saw 35cms. There was only a dusting at Mount Baw Baw but even here it was sufficient to freshen up the pistes.

Last week we mentioned that beyond the weekend the weather models were divergent as far as the Australian Alpine forecast went and offered two possibilities. It turns out that low pressure did cross the entire region and this is only now moving away from New South Wales. This has led to further snowfalls, and not just in the highest mountains. For example, the central west New South Wales city of Orange recorded 5cm of snow on Thursday morning, the second fall of the winter here. As the weather clears away to the east the snowy band will affect the Snowy Mountains. Although not far from Sydney and only about 1000m high, snow here is not all that rare but snow on the stunning backdrops of this magnificent region of high cliffs, waterfalls and forests would make perfect subjects for our upcoming 2008 calendar. Please submit any entries via our gallery.

The snowy spell of weather for Australian resorts continues into next week. Friday and Saturday should be cold with just scattered snow showers but cold fronts will then cross the region in quick succession making Saturday night and Sunday snowy again. Although high pressure builds across central Australia next week the west or southwest flow will continue to bring bands of snow and snow showers to the Alpine region and to Tasmania too.

South America

Although Andean resorts have not been as snowy as they were in 2007, this year has provided another excellent season so far especially at the higher altitude more northern resorts such as the Three Valleys. Thankfully, over the past week snow has settled down to resort level at some of the lower elevation places further south and the good news is that two Pacific depression will track across the southern Andes (one on Sunday, the next on Tuesday) and should deliver more than 50cm of fresh snow to many resorts, especially from Termas de Chillan south with the southern lakes region favoured. Confidence in the details and especially the timing are currently quite low but the overall picture of further heavy snowfalls in this area should be robust.

In Argentina, much as forecast last week, things have greatly improved at Cerro Catedral following 50cm of fresh snow right down to resort level on Tuesday the 5th of August. Although great powder conditions were reported, high winds forced about half of the 40 lifts to close. Unconfirmed reports suggest that this had increased to 1m by Wednesday. The forecast is for snow showers on Thursday but make the most of the weather window. Cloud increases on Friday and when it starts snowing on Friday night, don't expect it to clear again until Wednesday morning. Initially it may be mild enough for rain rather than snow on the lowest slopes. It looks like the heaviest falls will be on Sunday night and Tuesday night but over the whole period another half a metre of snow can be expected to fall. The end of next week is forecast to be fairly mild so you may have to make the most of what is available on the cloudy days if you want to ski the powder before it becomes heavy. Chapelco also benefited from the heavy snow but on Thursday the lifts were wind affected.

Last week we forecast about 40cm of snowfall over the weekend at many resorts in Chile. On Monday Chapa Verde was in great shape after receiving half a metre of fresh snow over the weekend. Similarly, about 50cm of fresh snow fell over the weekend at the Chilean Three Valleys resorts of El Colorado, La Parva and Valle Nevado. Portillo did even better than expected and almost a metre of snow fell over the seven days to Monday and like everywhere else had a sunny start to the new week. The first of the depressions will probably track too far South for these resorts but the following one in the middle of the week should also affect this area.

The snow-forecast team