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Australian snowstorm wrap-up

Ben Domensino, Tuesday August 8, 2017 - 13:48 EST

Australia's five-day snowstorm dubbed Blizzard of Oz on social media has come to an end and it's left behind some of the best snow accumulation the ski resorts have seen in years.

So, how much snow fell and how does this event compare to past years?

Coming up with a reliable figure of snow accumulation during the last five days is difficult. This value will vary considerably by location, altitude and the method of measurement.

Claims of natural snow accumulation during the last five days at Australia's main ski resorts range from about 100cm up to 135cm. While these figures are a good guide, they can be misleading if measurements are taken in snowdrifts or at different locations each day.

Another method is to look at how much precipitation was recorded by the Bureau of Meteorology's alpine rain gauges and apply the 1mm of rain = 1cm of snow rule.

Perisher Valley's 91mm of precipitation during the last five days was one of the higher totals in the alps and roughly equates to 91cm of snow at the site.

Other notable totals include Rocky Valley near Falls Creek in Victoria (154mm) and Geehi Airstrip to the west of Perisher Valley in NSW (126mm). Unfortunately, temperature data is not available at these sites, although they give an indication of how much precipitation was available to fall as snow in the region during this event.

Another reliable source of snow depth in Australia are the weekly measurements performed by Snowy Hydro at Spencers Creek in NSW. This site sits at 1,830 metres above sea level in the Snowy Mountains, between Perisher and Thredbo.

The snow depth at Spencers Creek prior to the 'Blizzard of Oz' was 115.6cm last Thursday. The next reading at the site is scheduled to take place on Thursday this week. Between now and then, little if any further natural snow is expected to fall and daytime temperatures above zero degrees are likely to cause a bit of snow melt.

Should this week's snow depth at Spencers Creek increase by more than 84.4cm from last Thursday, it will take the natural snow base at the site up to two metres.

Such a depth has become elusive at Spencers Creek in recent years, with two metres only surpassed twice in the last 13 years.

If this Thursday's depth at Spencers Creek measures 215.6m or higher, this will be the first weekly gain of one metre at the site since 1996.

- Weatherzone

© Weatherzone 2017

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