Snowfall could last entire ski season

Last updated 08:24 22/06/2013
Christchurch readers' snow photos: June 21, 2013
Elizabeth Hay Zoom
POM POM PICNIC: A table is covered in deep snow in Castle Hill.

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Canterbury ski fields believe they may have an entire season's worth of snow after this week's polar blast.

Porters Ski Area put off its opening this weekend after the storm blew in on Thursday and Mt Hutt broke the one-metre snow level yesterday after less than 24 hours snowfall.

Porters marketing manager Guy Nurse said it was "absolutely dumping down" and about 10 staff were snowed in at the accommodation lodge. A groomer and grader were attempting to clear the road from the highway to the lodge, Nurse said, to alleviate avalanche risk.

However, Nurse said there were no concerns over the staff's safety, and they were well stocked with food and supplies.

Mt Hutt ski area manager James McKenzie said snow on the mountain had been "pretty amazing", and the most the field had seen fall in such a short time - including an hour where seven centimetres fell.

"It is snowing so hard that we can't keep the access roads safe or the mountain safe through avalanche risk."

A total of 1.2 metres of snow fell on the mountain yesterday before the wind picked up, McKenzie said.

He believed the ski field could operate for the entire season on the back of this one dump.

"I've just been out talking to the loader operator who's out clearing the access road, and he was seeing snow drifts of up to eight metres."

The base lodge was almost buried and signage and markers were lost, but McKenzie hoped the clean-up would only take 24 hours.

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- © Fairfax NZ News


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