The 2016 Aussie ski season is off to a great start: or is it?

About this time every year, people start getting really excited about amount of snow on the ground.  Automatically, excitement turns to speculation about what the season might do, where it might end, and how it compares to previous seasons – especially the ones that really delivered i.e. 1992 (316 cm); 1968 (307 cm); 1964 (355 cm) and most famously of all 1981 (361 cm).

With 71.5 cm on the ground at Spencer’s Creek (at the time of writing, though likely going up as we speak), 2016 is off to a pretty good start. But how good is it, and how does it compare?

Well, June is usually pretty lean. In fact, of the main snow bearing months (May-October), June is placed third last (see Figure below).

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Further analysis based on a ten year moving average suggests that the maximum snow depth in June was historically 50 cm to 80 cm depth, but this now appears to have declined in the last 20 years to around 50 cm to 65 cm.  So, 75.1 cm puts is well ahead of the 10 year moving average.  But this is a moving average.  How does it compare on a year to year basis. Well, still pretty good. A quick check of the last 20 years of maximum snow depths at the end of June, also confirms that 2016 is a winning year. Only 4 of the last 20 years have recorded end of June snow depths greater than 71.5 cm, meaning 16 of the last 20 years have performed worse than 2016 – this is equivalent to an ‘A minus’ for 2016.

So what do maximum snow depths in June have to do with the rest of snow season? Well, going by the plot below, they have a little bit to do with it – just a wee bit.   The regression analysis below shows that around 19.8% of what happens by the end of the season, can be explained by what happens at the end of June (based on the R squared value or the R squared coefficient of determination). So it’s not a super strong predictor, but its an ok correlation nevertheless. So rejoice and BELIEVE the media hype….turns out snow falls in June have been bumper after all, and this bodes (pretty) well for the rest of the season.  *warm fuzzies all round*

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