Sydney, Australia. – Chile and Argentina will be the first of the Southern Hemisphere ski-resort regions to be hit with a cold front, although Australia or New Zealand won't be far behind as the new upside-down ski season goes into full swing this week. That's the 2008 snowfall prediction from Dr. Jeff Masters, Director of Meteorology at The Weather Underground.
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In South America, Chilean resort openings began with El Colorado, La Parva, and Ski Arpa. Cerro Catedral leads off for Argentine resorts on June 12. All Australian resorts were scheduled to open for the Queen's Day weekend June 6 and 7, but due to warmer temps, only a handful were able. Historically, dry stutter-starts followed by dumps later on are the norm. Ski season in New Zealand kicked off with Coronet Peak and will be followed with the opening of Mt. Lyford on June 12 and Mt. Hutt, Turoa, and Whakapapa on June 14.
Masters, who uses the Global Forecast System (GFS) computer model, said that the southern regions of Argentina and Chile should expect some cold weather in the coming weeks.
“The GFS gives a clue to what the jet stream pattern will be, and it's useful for looking at what the two-week model will be for cold-air blasts,” he said. “Argentina and Chile should see some cold-weather patterns about June 10 and should stay cold for about a week. It's showing a pretty extended cold-weather period for the southern tip of Argentina, and it could very well just remain cold there.”
While past and current climate gives only limited clues to the future, the GFS and other snowfall prediction resources like Columbia University's International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) can be more reliable.
“The IRI is a little better than flipping a coin,” Masters said. “The latest June, July and Aug. forecasts (from the IRI Web site) show a good chance of above-average temperatures for the major ski places in the Southern Hemisphere.”
North America, which was also predicted to have above-average temperatures before the 2007-08 season, had an extraordinary winter season, but Masters warns “weather in the North is not necessarily a strong indicator of what's to come in the South ... the two hemispheres do things on their own.”
Masters said there will likely be a short delay in the cold weather's arrival in New Zealand.
“I don't see as much in the way of cold temps in June. There's nothing on the horizon there,” he said, indicating many ski areas in New Zealand and Australia will rely on snow that's already fallen, and making snow to maintain fresh tracks for the early season.
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