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Southern Hemisphere Off to Slow season

The 2015 ski season is off to a slow start for some ski areas in the Southern Hemisphere, including those in Chile, where six ski areas remain closed due to lack of snowfall. Traditionally skiers and riders in the Southern Hemisphere start hitting the slopes by early to mid June.

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However, Francisco Sotomayor, director of Chile’s ski area association, said there have been about 20 seasons in the past 50 that have started after June 25, and 10 seasons have started after July 1.

How dry has it been? Despite a deepening El Nino, which often brings increased precipitation, Santiago has seen just 1.2 centimeters of rain this year, 86 percent less than normal. Given the low precipitation, Portillo hopes to open July 7, according to SnoCountry.com.

Meanwhile, three ski areas are open in Argentina, including Caviahue, Chapelo, and Las Lenas. However, all three currently have base depths of less than a foot, and less than half of their lifts in operation.

Down Under, seven Australian ski areas are open, including Perisher and Thredbo, which are reporting thin base depths of about four inches on SnoCountry.com. Conditions appear to be somewhat better in New Zealand, where six of 17 ski areas are open. Coronet Peak is reporting a base of up to 55 inches, and Cardrona has received about two feet of snow in the past three days.

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