In Australia, where it's winter, ski resorts are in full swing as the country is hit with heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures. Resorts are seeing a massive turnout, the most in 18 years, after a storm - nicknamed Stormin’ Norman - dropped nearly 30 inches of powder in Victoria and New South Wales.
The weather is reminiscent of the storms that battered the Alps last winter. The top five resorts in Australia all reaped the benefits of Norman’s fury. Perisher, the most famous resort, was buried in 28 inches of snow in just three days.
“The skiing this weekend will be amazing across all four resort areas with at least 32 lifts operating. It looks like the best early season conditions Perisher has seen since 2000,” Perisher COO Peter Brulisauer said.
Mount Hotham in the Alpine National Park has already been hit with 40 inches of snow this season, and Thredbo, north of the New South Wales/Victoria border, received 34 inches and was expected to open the Supertrail, the country’s longest ski run, yesterday.
“The best news is, experts are claiming there is another storm in the forecast, set to hit next weekend, which will hopefully deliver another solid top-up of fresh snow,” said Richie Carroll, a marketing executive at Thredbo.
Mount Buller and Fall Creek in Victoria received 20 and 28 inches of snow respectively with temperatures below freezing. Both resorts planned on opening the first lifts of the season this past weekend.
Last winter, European ski resorts registered record snowfalls. The snow, though beneficial to ski areas also increased the risk of avalanches in France, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy. Some resorts, such as Zermatt in Switzerland and Tignes in France, were forced to close.
Though it’s too soon to know how Australia will be affected, the early season snowfall has been good for business at the country’s resorts, which will use snowmaking machines to add an additional layer of powder to the slopes.
“Temperatures are set to take a significant dive across the weekend, so we can fire up the snowmaking and complement the natural snow falls. The weather is a fickle beast and that’s why resorts have heavily invested in snowmaking to smooth out those times when Mother Nature doesn’t come to the party,” Thredbo Communications Manager, Susie Diver, told 9News.
As the storms subsided over the weekend, the resorts began to enjoy blue skies and gleaming white trails. Queensland meteorologist Dave Taylor has predicted a “mini ice age” for the continent, as locals prepare for another cold front next week. Taylor believes Australia will see seven “below average winters,” each colder than the last.
“There will be frosts as far north as Cairns, with a light coating towards the coast - getting heavier in the west,' he told Daily Mail Australia. “And if this next cold front comes through then temperatures will drop another few degrees on June 26. It has been warmer during the day, but it is the huge swing to freezing temperatures that I am talking about -the freezing mornings and big lows.”