June 12, 2008

How do the seasons stack up?

As the skiing season draws to a close in the Snowy Mountains the inevitable question is "how did this season compare to previous years?"

We give an overview of the snowfall in the Snowy Mountains from 1964 right through to the just-passed 2007 season.

Here is the list of ratings for the ski seasons in the Snowy Mountains from 1964 - 2007

The ratings are 1 = Awful, 2 = Poor, 3 = Fair, 4 = Good, 5 = Excellent

Rate 5: Mt. Agung errupted in Indonesia, creating a cooling effect over the Australian contient. There was a measured dramitic drop in global temperatures in 1964. This was one of the greatest ski seasons ever on record with peak snow depth at Spencer's creek reaching over 330cm.
Rate 1: Abysmal season following a great season. 1965 was the start of a severe drought in NSW.
1966 - 1967
Rate 2: Two poor seasons as the drought continued.
Rate 5: An excellent season.
Rate 1: Awful season.
1970 - 1972
Rate 4,3,4: Stong La Nina brought 2 good seaons, and one fair season.
Rate 1: One of the worst on record. Australia experienced a very warm winter in 1974.
Rate 4: A good season.
1975 - 1980
Rates 2 & 3: A string of poor and fair seasons. Mt. St Helens errupted in 1980, but it was too late in the year for the Australian ski season.
Rate 5: A fabulous season, with the erruption of Mt. St Helens contributing to cooler tempurates, combined with increased precipitaion. with depths reaching over 350cm. The snow lasted until mid-November.
Rate 1: Once again a terrible season follows an excellent season. It was very cold in 1982 due to another erruption (El Chichon, Mexico), but there was no moisture to create snow. 1982 was the start of a strong El Nino and drought in NSW.
Rate 2: A poor season as El Nino kept moisture away.
1984 - 1986
Rate 3: three fair seasons, with the erruption of two volcanoes in Columbia and Cameroon.
Rate 2: A Poor season. The skiing conditions in the Snowies seemed to be deterorating.
1988 - 1989
Rate 1: Two awful seasons, back-to-back. The Snowies had not experienced a good season since 1981. Many people were putting their skis up for sale in the TradingPost, or arranging overseas trips. THis was the darkest period in the Snowies history, with depths at Spencer's creek failing to reach over 150cm in '88 or '89. 1988 was probably the worst season ever.
Rate 4: A good season, finally! The snowies recovered with the best season in nearly 10 years. The snow was just shy of 300cm at Spencer's creek in late August. People who had given up after the poor run in the late '80s were kicking themselves for not visting the Snowies in 1990.
1991 - 1992
Rate 4: It wasn't a fluke in 1990 as the good times rolled with three back-to-back good seasons (1990 - 1992). Cooler temperatures were asisted with the continuing erruption of Mt. Pinatubo, and the erruption of Mt. Unzein in Japan.
1993 - 1996
Rate 3: Four fair seasons. The Snowies settled into a mediocrity of fair seasons as NSW experiences a five year drought (1991 - 1995) due to El Nino. At least there was some snow!
1997 - 1998
Rate 1: Another two awful seaons, second only to 1988 - 1989 in terms of tragedy. Snow depths failed to reach over 150cm at Spencer's creek.
Rate 2: A poor season. Which didn't bother too many people as most skis had been ground to nothing after skiing on rocks in '97 and '98.
Rate 4: A good season. The snow fell in a number of large dumps, rising 150cm early July to late August. The depth peaked at 262cm in early September.
Rate 3: A fair season. The snow peaked at 192cm in late August, it came late and went early.
Rate 3: Another fair season. The snow peaked at 175cm in mid-August, this season would be a poor season, but the cover was failry consistent from mid-July to late September.
Rate 3: Once again, a fair season. The snow peaked very late in September, rising to 201cm.
Rate 4 (just): Not really a fair season, but not really a good season. A pretty good season. Great snow falls in late July and early August. Best season since 2000. This could have been a good season, if the snow hadn't arrived so late. Excellent snow making turned many popular runs into great runs.
Rate 2: A poor season. There was plenty of moisture, it was just too warm. There were some disasterous rain periods from mid-August that washed away some great early snow falls. The depth peaked at 150cm in the first week of August. Has the temperature been 1-2 degrees cooler, the snow would have passed the 250cm mark.
Rate 1: An awful season. It was dry, sunny and warm. The only moisture fell as rain. In fact, this takes the crown as the worst season ever. You should feel honoured if you were one of the many who skiied on rocks in t-shirts ansd shorts, it was an historic event. Thankfully it was cold enough to make some artificial snow, and this keep the major runs open. The resorts should be commended for making a season out of almost nothing. The best skiiing mid-August. The depth struggled to reach 60cm.
Rate 3: A fair season. The temperatures were low, but there just wasn't any moisture when it was needed. Some great powder in early July, but it heated up and turned to slush failry quickly. The depth just made it to the fair marker of 150cm, peaking around 160cm in early August. Pretty much a mirror season depth-wise of 2005 and 2002.

Notes: - We haven't had an excellent season since 1981 (23 years ago) - The average season quality is 2.7 (between poor (2) and fair (3)). - The quality seems to be less erratic, with strings of fair, good and awful seasons occuring more frequently.

Posted at 01:20 PM