Snowfall predicted in Batlow this weekend

Snow has been a no-show in the South-West Slopes so far this winter, but that’s expected to change today (Friday).

Flakes are predicted to fall above 700 metres, and above 600 metres tomorrow (Saturday). Sitting at 775 metres, that means Batlow is finally due a dump this season.

However, those who have been in the area for a period of decades can’t help but notice there’s been a pretty precipitous decline in the amount and frequency of snowfall in this part of the northern alps.

Batlow apple grower Ralph Wilson can contrast the meagre falls of the decade so far with his childrens’ childhoods, where there were plenty of family shenanigans to be had in the plentiful falls.

“There’s certainly been a change in the weather, there’s no doubt about that,” he said.

“When we came to Batlow 40-odd years ago, every single year we’d get snow. Every single year. Every single year when our daughters were growing up they could make a snowman – every year. We’d always have snow, and I’d take a photo every single year.

“The past two years we’ve had very little snow, and the year before that only a light fall. It’s just got less and less, and this year so far we’ve had no snow – that being said they are forecasting the possibility of snow on Friday.

“There is a definite reduction in the amount of snow we’re getting in Batlow.”

His observations are supported by the data. The CSIRO expects the Australian ski season to shorten by 20 – 55 days by 2050, and the closest yearly measurement – at Three Mile Dam, where Snowy Hydro faithfully records the snow levels each year – shows a clear decline in the amount of snowfall in the area.

Measurements of snowfall at Three Mile Dam (near Cabramurra) in 1960 compared to last year. Graph courtesy of Snowy Hydro.

The graph pictured above shows the length and depth of the snowfall in 1960 versus last year. This could be due to an anomaly – the CSIRO also admits that snowfalls naturally vary significantly from year to year – but the second graph shows the long term trends over the past fifty years.

The lowest line, in dark blue, represents the 2000s, and the highest line, in maroon, represents the sixties.

Measurements of snowfall at Three Mile Dam since 1960, compiled by Gerg’s Graphs.

Meanwhile, the Selwyn Snowfields finally enjoyed a 70cm fall at the start of this month, after a slow start to the season. Around the same time, Thredbo received an 1.15 metre dump, in the best fall of the winter so far, and Victoria experienced its best skiing conditions since 2004.

Long term, though, Perhaps locals should enjoy the predicted snowfall on the weekend while they can.