By now you will have heard that “The Storm” is coming, and indeed, in Canterbury, it’s a big one!
Firstly, this is a somewhat unusual event. A big SE storm (which is where Canterbury gets its best snow) but with massive amounts of precipitation. It’s been a while since we’ve seen an event like this. Metservice have categorised this as their second only RED warning, there was one last year, but these events aren’t common and rainfall like predicted was last seen around 10 years ago.
Like you, we look at a lot of snow models. Metservice, hmmm. Snow Forecast, really good on wind speed and freezing level, but highly optimistic on precipitation, until the last 24 hours. We use Yr.no, good on wind direction, less good on wind strength, generally good on precipitation. And there are many others. So earlier this week there were massive predictions, “metres” of snow were going to fall. Weather models are like this, which is why we prefer not to post those “predictions”.
Our model still suggests huge falls, but how much is the big question!. There will be a lot of snow, but, there’s also going to be a lot of rain at lower elevations. Because, from late Saturday onwards the freezing level is generally lifting to 1800-2000m, well above the base level of all ski areas. But don't despair, snow will fall and settle often hundreds of metres below the freezing level and it only takes a minor shift in freezing level and temperature to very substantial snow across all elevations.
So, we are going to see a lot of rain and tons of snow, specifically at higher elevations. What we’re also going to see is a substantial avalanche danger. So if you’re tempted to get out there and ski some pow, temper that desire. Let it settle, and let some professional eyes get across it.
And yep, this is a primarily a Canterbury storm, the Southern Lakes should see 20-30cm, but unfortunately Ruapehu won't get much at all. Canterbury will easily get a metre or (a lot) more, the season is on!
More specifically, this storm alone could deliver more snow to Canterbury than many areas had last year. This will set all Canterbury ski areas, especially the clubbies, up for great season. We’re looking forward to getting amongst it!
Keep up to date and check out our New Zealand Snow Forecast!