It might not snow till September.
That’s the take from National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research meteorologist Maria Augutis, who says the winter snow drought’s due to a combination of warmer-than-average sea-surface temperatures and a lack of moisture-filled cold southerly wind flows.
“You need cold weather to get the snow but you also need moisture.
“If the Tasman Sea is warm, if the coastal waters around New Zealand are warm, NZ as a country is more likely to trend towards the warmer side as well.”
To date this month, Augutis says Queenstown’s mean average daily temperature is 2.2 degrees above normal.
And even if there’ve been some some southerlies coming through, “they haven’t contained enough moisture to bring snow”.
Looking forward, she says “we see a signal that there may be more active [or unsettled] weather later on this season, maybe not in August, but more so in September”.
However, she warns, that prognosis could change.
“So far it hasn’t been ideal for skiers.”
‘Don’t bad-mouth Coronet’
Though there’s no off-trail skiing/boarding at Queenstown’s Coronet Peak, NZSki boss Paul Anderson says on-trail conditions, due to snow-making, are perfectly good.
“We know a massive part of our market tend to concentrate their time on the main trails anyway, and those people are enjoying all the skiing that we’ve got to offer, top to bottom.
“We need to make sure as locals we don’t talk our guests out of going up, because they actually come up and have a ball.”
And contrary to some rumours, Anderson says: “It’s definitely going to see the season out, as long as there’s snow on the trails.”
Ironically, despite the snow drought, he says NZSki’s other local field, The Remarkables, is heading towards a record season – “last week, with school holidays, we had two record days”.
That’s partly because of perceptions about Coronet – “that’s definitely part of the equation ‘cos we’re seeing the numbers drop off a little bit at Coronet Peak”.