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The Canberra Times
The Canberra Times
Alex Crowe

What the recent snow dump means for the ski season

Perisher spruiks its snowy slopes

While the weekend's freezing temperatures got everyone on snow watch, the Bureau of Meteorology has offered the following reality check.

"It's not unusual to have these bursts of winter-like weather, particularly in May," senior meteorologist Dean Narramore said.

"Sometimes you're going to have a lot of snow in April and May and then get to winter and it all stops."

Kosciuszko has been blanketed in snow in the past seven days, which included a 10-centimetre dump on Perisher in 24 hours.

La Nina bought the resort one of its best seasons on record last year; the extra moisture in the atmosphere contributing to an early opening and extended season.

Perisher had been transformed into a winter wonderland, after a huge dump of snow on Sunday. Picture: Supplied

The Australian snow season officially starts on, what is now, the King's birthday long weekend. This year the resorts are scheduled to open on June 10.

Perisher marketing director Rob Lloyd said there were currently no plans to move the date forward, despite opening early the past couple of years.

Mr Lloyd said snow making would start at the resort soon, which meant firing up five new guns at Smiggin Holes - their beginner and family ski area, as well as at the base of the Interceptor Quad.

"Last year we had unprecedented numbers and we just expect to grow from here," he said.

What happens after La Nina?

Unfortunately for skiers and snow borders, La Nina's end could signal an end to prime conditions.

It is becoming increasingly likely the country will experience an El Nino later this year, an event typically associated with drier conditions in Australia.

The bureau's Mr Narramore said, without the extra moisture in the air, winter's cold mornings might result in more frosts and less snow.

"The moisture might not be as plentiful as it has been the last few years to give us those deep snowy conditions where we get that nice fresh powder through the winter months," he said.

"That's not saying it won't snow - of course it does every year - but maybe not to the level and extent that we saw through the last few winters."

Mr Narramore said, while less moisture was associated with less snowfall, snow did not behave predictably.

"The weather in May is not normally a good indication of what you're gonna get for the rest of winter," he said.

From Perisher, Mr Lloyd said the chance of El Nino wasn't creating panic.

"These days we have such reliable snow making that it's had a huge impact on being able to keep runs open earlier and longer," he said.

"If it's warmer and drier with more bluebird days, I'm not complaining. It will still be cold enough for Perisher to keep the gates open."

What is happening at Kosciuszko this week?

Warmer weather is making its way to Canberra this week, with maximum temperatures forecast to stay above 15 degrees, after the coldest May day in 23 years on Sunday.

Mr Narramore said much of the snow-producing weather had also moved off the coast.

"We're still going to see those cold, frosty mornings continue though," he said.

"For those mountains doing snow making it'll be prime conditions for that, with temperatures likely to get well below zero again on Monday night and probably Tuesday night."

Mr Narramore said day time temperatures were creeping up this week in the alpine regions, too.

"The next week or so is looking fairly dry with no big real weather systems coming in," he said.

"Unfortunately, I see a part of that snow probably start to melt away on the weekend and into next week."

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