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Every good story needs a hero, a villain, a joker, and a few twists along the way. This month’s seasonal forecast update sure as sugar isn’t Shakespeare, but it’s covering all those bases.
One thing is certain this winter, and that is the high chance of a full blown El Nino event in the Pacific, with the odds currently tracking at higher than 80 per cent. This is the main constant that carries over from our first seasonal outlook of the year, which is required reading if you want to follow this month’s update.
We lay down the situation last month. A strong signal for El Nino was also backed up by models leaning fairly heavily towards the “Classic” variety, characterised by higher than average pressures over south-eastern Australia that historically have tended to keep fronts and snow away from the Australian Alps.
OMG, can’t remember when Falls has had a 7 day forecast of nearly 1m of snow – Andrew – Snow forecast discussion on Mountain Watch
The Hero and Her Twist
The big change in forecasts over the last month is that the chances of a “Wrong’un” have surged back into contention. You’ll remember that Wrong’uns have been associated with more frontal activity and some very big snowfall years. We like Wrong’uns. One key model in particular is now backing the Wrong’un. My favourite model is sitting on the fence. And another important model is still signalling a Classic. What to make of all this? Well it looked like our star player was out for the season. Now it looks like she might at least get a few games in and score a few goals, maybe even make a play for MVP.
In the last ten years we’ve learnt and heard a bunch more about the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD). Think of it as the Indian Ocean’s version of El Nino. A negative event would be associated with warmer than normal water to the north-west of Australia, cooler water off the coast of Africa, and more easterly winds than normal feeding warm moist air south-eastwards over the Australian continent, where it can mix with frontal systems to increase rainfall (and snowfall if we’re lucky).
Now, a negative IOD is almost unheard of during a strong El Nino, but this year we might get a similar effect with a neutral IOD, because the waters across the entire Indian Ocean are expected to be unusually warm during winter. This is feeding through into the forecasts of above average rainfall that you are seeing in Bureau of Meteorology forecasts. The problem is, during June and July there’s a real danger that this extra moisture will arrive when it’s too warm, resulting in rain, not snow. But if this effect can hold on into the depths of winter, then it could prime us for an epic August, a bit like the one that saved 2013.
Story thanks to The Grass Hopper