June 1, 2009

Weereewa, Lake George

The first time I saw Lake George (Weereewa) it looked something like this photograph taken in 1989:

<img alt='Lake George in 1989' src='http://www.southperisher.org.au/2009/06/01/lake-george-thumb.jpg&quot; width='270' height='271'>

Plenty of water.

More recently though Lake George looks like this:

Lake George in 2009

No water.

The information I'm able to gather about the water levels indicates that the last time (before 2002) the lake was completely dry was during the 1940's drought. Unless some water has appeared since I wrote this, it has been completely dry since 2002 - except for a brief time in 2007.

Not at all like the 1950's where, were I alive at the time, I could have sailed a Yacht on Lake George so long as I was careful to avoid the fishing trawlers collecting all the Murray Cod.

Now, some recent optimism about the potential depth for the 2009 season points to the fullness of Lake Eyre as evidence for good snow depth.

What about Lake George?

Here's a comparison of the snow depth between the <em>yacht-sailing, cod-eating</em> 1956 and the <em>dry like a sao biscuit</em> 2002:

Perisher snow depth 1956 vs 2002

Reports say that Lake George also dried out completely in the early 1900's, in the 1940's and came close to completely dry in 1986. I don't have any snow depth measurements for the 1900's or 1940's but I do have measurements for 1986.

Perisher snow depth 1986 vs 2002

Looks remarkably similar to 2002.

Every season Since 2002, even the ones that seemed promising at one time of the year or another, have a similar overall shape. Going back to 1989 (and the early 90's) though, I don't know exactly when Lake George got that water back after the dry of 1986 but if you look at the snow depths for 1990 and 1991 it's my guess that whatever rainfall caused the filling of Lake George probably had some sort of knock-on effect to the snow depth of the season(s) immediately afterwards.

The only record of water recently in Lake George is Mid-to-late 2007 where after heavy rain there were some large pools of water on the lake bed. Looking at the depth chart for 2007 there's a noticable rise in snow depth at the same time as that photograph was taken. That's not at all surprising. However, a comparison of 2008 and 2006 is interesting:

Perisher snow depth 2008 vs 2006

2006 is before Lake George got a little bit damp, 2008 is afterwards.

Canberra has been hot for the last 12 years and mostly dry... but not completely dry. Here are the notable wet periods in Canberra in the last decade:

  • August through October 2000
  • September and October 2001
  • February 2002
  • Patchy but high in June, August and September 2005
  • January 2006
  • February 2007

It looks to me that the more recent trend is for what I might dub "cold tropical" with increased overall heat with more precipitation in summer and less in winter. Such a trend is useless for snowfall and, might I add, useless for water levels in Lake George because rain in Summer onto a dry river bed is going to evaporate quickly.

Of course, one look at 2004, which was overall dry and warm in Canberra for much of the year will show that as with every other simplified model for predicting snow depth in the Snowy Mountains, this one is wildly inaccurate <strong>at least</strong> half of the time.

That said... if, having not checked a single snow report you drive past Lake George in August 2009 and see people fishing, then you can expect some good snow when you arrive in the Snowies. Unless I'm wrong... toss a coin.

The first time I saw Lake George (Weereewa) it looked something like this photograph taken in 1989

Posted at 12:10 PM