By PHILIP CHANDLER
Climate experts are predicting a slow start to the ski season, but Queenstown’s ‘Mr Ski’ is ‘‘sure we’ll be fine’’ — despite the warm and dry conditions we’ve been experiencing.
‘‘It will get cooler and it will snow, but it could be late,’’ eminent local-based climate change scientist Dr Jim Salinger says.
He bases his prediction on continuing La Nina conditions and above-average sea-surface temperatures around New Zealand.
He says La Nina at this end of the country generally means ‘‘clearer skies and probably more frosty conditions, so it does sort of reduce rainfall, i.e. precipitation’’.
Local weather observer Stuart Maclean says normally we’d have had a few mild frosts by
now, but, very unusually, ‘‘we’ve not had any’’.
‘‘It doesn’t look as if we’re going to have a very severe winter, which won’t be good for
the ski season.’’
NZSki CEO Paul Anderson, however, says ground temperatures are falling on Coronet
Peak and The Remarkables — ‘‘we’re starting to get a few freezes up there, which is great to see’’.
With ‘‘a wee bit of a southerly flow’’ possibly coming through this week, temperatures
might even be cold enough to fire up their snowmaking system, he suggests.
‘‘The people who’ve been around for a while are saying we’ve got six weeks to go, plenty of time for the temperatures to get cold — we just keep our fingers crossed and we’ll get into it.
‘‘Long-range predictions are exactly that — we pretty much work three days in advance.
‘‘We know winter always arrives, and we know we get snow, so I’m sure we’ll be fine.’’
The skifields are due to open June 17/18.
‘‘I’ve been here nine years and we’ve [only] missed twice,’’ Anderson says.