Snow season on its last legs
There's only so much snow they can push around to cover the bare spots, only so much snow coverage left from decent falls early in the season, and only so much the slopes can take with current record warmth.
All those "so muches" are about to add up to "too much", as in too much effort to keep the ski slopes open, with the end of the 2023 ski season imminent at most Australian resorts.
Normally, our ski areas try to struggle through till the first weekend in October. Not this year.
If any resort makes it, it'll be Perisher. Despite reaching its highest September temperature on record on Thursday with 18°C, the front valley section of the resort receives plenty of snowmaking throughout the season, so it should get by.
Image: Front Valley has the knack of looking more or less the same in the best or worst season. The rest of the resort, not so much. Source: ski.com.au.
Meanwhile higher parts of the resort are just clinging on.
Image: The track on the Sun Valley T-Bar is more challenging than the steep runs nearby right now. Source: Steve Smith.
If there is one thing that the 2023 season will be remembered for...
It's the earliest recorded peak snow depth.
The most consistent measure of Australian snow depths is at Spencers Creek, roughly halfway between the NSW resorts of Perisher and Thredbo, where Snowy Hydro has taken regular readings since 1954.
There have been leaner seasons than 2023 in terms of overall snow depth (the lowest peak was 2006 with 85.1 cm) while this year's peak 131 cm on July 13.
The date is the interesting statistic in this case. Never before has the peak season depth occurred so early. But from about mid-July onwards, cold fronts were few and far between, meaning a lack of snowfall which was accompanied by significantly above-average temps across the mountains and further afield.
Indeed, winter rainfall was in the lowest 10% of historical records across the mountains.