23 May 2007
A blanket of snow has covered much of the high ranges of the Kosciuszko National Park over the past two days and hopes are running high for the coming ski season.
After spending much of the summer season enduring the drought and feeling the threat of climate change, the residents of Jindabyne are alight with anticipation of a good season. The town, at the foot of the national park, almost triples in size during the snow season and relies heavily on the tourist dollar.
"Don't you worry, this season will be a good one, this is a big one. You'll see, we can feel it," one long-time resident said.
Crackenback Mountain in Thredbo recorded 15cm of snow by Tuesday afternoon with similar figures achieved on the snow slopes of Perisher Blue and more snow is predicted today.
Australian Alpine resorts have invested significantly in infrastructure over the 2006-07 summer and are relying on a bumper snow season to wipe away memories of the dismal snowfall last year.
"Snow falling at this time supports the predictions of a healthy winter ahead. With just 18 days to go [until the snow season begins], this is excellent news for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts.
Coinciding with the first significant dump of the season, Snowy Hydro launched "silver bullets" into the night's sky, marking the first of the cloud-seeding trials for 2007. It's hoped cloud seeding will improve rain and snowfall over the Snowy Mountain catchment.
The research uses minute amounts of silver iodide as the seeding agent, dispensed from ground-based generators to concentrate ice crystals in clouds that contain sufficient below freezing water droplets. Snowy Hydro spokesman Paul Johnson said the trial was showing promising results.
"We have three years of results so far but we feel on a 10-year average, cloud seeding will increase snowfall across the Snowy Mountains by 10 per cent. It is early days but this is the feeling."
Snow-making efforts began in earnest at Perisher Blue on Monday night. Snow makers were keen to take advantage of the ideal conditions to add to the natural fall when temperatures dropped below zero. The majority of the water used is "borrowed" and returns to the natural catchments in spring, according to Perisher Blue.
The resort has recently made a commitment to use green power and its main chairlift, capable of lifting eight people per chair, will operate on 100 per cent renewable energy.
Thredbo Alpine Village has spent more than $2 million to build a fully automated snow-making system and 135 snow guns will be used on the slopes.
The weather bureau predicts a cold front that crossed the region on Monday night will move away to the east and snow showers will end today.