Long wait for a big chill is on

Central Otago Mirror - - WANAKA NEWS - By MARY-JO TO­HILL

Ah, sea­sons of mist and mel­low fruit­ful­ness . . .

When he penned To Au­tumn, English poet John Keats was no doubt think­ing about the lovely im­age of ripen­ing fruit.

How­ever, for Wanaka ski field oper­a­tors, snow is the only crop on their minds, as they pre­pare for the 2014 win­ter sea­son, with Cardrona Alpine Re­sort open­ing this Fri­day, the Snow Farm on Satur­day and Tre­ble Cone next Thurs­day.

And ac­cord­ing to the Met Ser­vice, the good news is that snow may be on the way this week, with the weather chang­ing to a cooler show­ery, southerly flow.

This will be a wel­come change from Keats’ mist; that’s the In­ver­sion Layer, the dreaded grey-white lid hang­ing over Wanaka in the last week, which ev­ery­one’s been com­plain­ing about.

This ‘‘an­ti­cy­clonic gloom’’ is caused by de­scend­ing air be­neath an area of high at­mo­spheric pres­sure, Met Ser­vice me­te­o­rol­o­gist John Law says.

So if you’ve been hav­ing bad driv­ing days, Law says it’s rea­son­able to blame the in­ver­sion layer, be­cause fog will def­i­nitely re­duce vis­i­bil­ity, and the as­so­ci­ated high hu­mid­ity can cause bad hair days too.

It’s been mak­ing ski field oper­a­tors cranky as well, be­cause the moun­tains were un­likely to see any use­ful fresh snow un­til the area of high pres­sure, and with it the in­ver­sion, shifted away.

Its im­pact on the ski fields is a bit of a two-edged sword, Tre­ble Cone mar­ket­ing man­ager Nick No­ble says.

‘‘It can be quite pos­i­tive be­cause people head up the moun­tain to get away from it,’’ No­ble says.

Tre­ble Cone’s been all snow- guns blaz­ing for the last two weeks, with good cov­er­age on the sad­dle and home basins for its open­ing on June 26, mar­ket­ing man­ager Nick No­ble says.

Cardrona is ex­pect­ing a big snow storm to hit, which could turn snow con­di­tions from ‘‘zero to hero’’ for its open­ing this Fri­day.

Next door on the Pisa Ranges, the cross-coun­try ski fa­cil­ity Snow Farm is sched­uled to open on Satur­day, weather per­mit­ting.

Photo: MARY-JO TO­HILL

Let it snow: Wanaka’s High­land Sad­dle and Mid­dle Peak near Wanaka, rise ma­jes­ti­cally above the In­ver­sion Layer. But where’s the snow? Hope­fully, it will ar­rive in the back coun­try in the next few days, to pro­vide good cov­er­age for the ski fields’ open­ing in the next week.

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