Does Lake Eyre inflow mean Thredbo Big Snow -

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Does Lake Eyre inflow mean Thredbo Big Snow

Posted on Tuesday, 7th of May 2019

The kind of snow storm we dream about in Thredbo

The kind of snow storm we dream about in Thredbo

When you spend some time in the mountains,  you start to hear all kinds of Snow Forecasting theories on natural phenomenon that might predict the onset of a big snow year.   Believe it or not… Crows flying backwards,  the changing colours of spots on brown trout and nostril twitch rates for local swamp wallabies….are all mythical predictors of impending snow fall.

However there is one natural predictor that has some tantalising credibility.  Speculation on a big snow winter always rises with the water levels in the far off flood plains of  the Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre basin.   This year it appears Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre is set for a flooding greater than anything seen since 1974.   So how can a  lake that is over 2000 km away have any impact on Snow Falls in the Snowy Mountains?   This is the kind of question that you would ask if you have never seen Kati Thanda -Lake Eyre.

I flew over the lake in 2015 and the label “Lake”,  does not do it justice.  This thing is enormous and while it is most often a vast dry salt pan,  if it is covered in water then in terms of scale we are talking about an inland sea. So if  all of that water from the tropical cyclone events of the past summer and autumn is going to start filling this lake then all of a sudden,  to the west of the mountains , we now have a sea, where we once had salt and sand.

So what does this have to do with snow?

Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre before the flood

Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre before the flood

For all of those lapsed geography students looking for an excuse to draw flow charts.   “A large body of water will provide evaporation sending additional moisture into the atmosphere which will then be carried east on the prevailing weather to be uplifted when it hits the mountains causing precipitation,  which we can only hope will fall as snow.”

So it sounds like a great theory right?  Good enough to get excited about the coming winter and the potential for big snow events!   Yes. Well the reality is that, like most things meteorological, it is a bit hit and miss.  There have been some huge snow years coinciding with Lake Eyre Flooding,  including 1974 the early 1990s and 2000.  There have also been some years where the Lake has had a full crew of Pelicans but the mountains have been decidedly short on weather perfect for penguins.

Having said all of that,  there is no harm in taking a ride on the  hyperbole express, at least  there is  some basis for belief and it is relatively easy to explain in the pub.  So the next time someone wonders aloud, “I hope we get decent dump this winter”.  You can nod knowingly and say “it is gunna be huge ….. Lake Eyre is full and how about those Swamp Wallabies!”

 

 

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