Australia’s eastern states can expect blizzard conditions, below-average temperatures, wind, rain and snow in coming days as an Antarctic air blast moves up from the Southern Ocean.
The weather bureau issued a warning at midday on Monday that “up to 20 million Australians across the east and south-east of the country” are set to shiver with significant cold, rain and snow on the way.
The warning comes as four hikers were rescued after getting caught in a snow storm in southern NSW.
In a daring midnight rescue operation on Sunday night, NSW police and emergency personnel were called to the Kosciuszko National Park after four hikers got lost in snow after getting disorientated three kilometres from Charlotte‘s Pass on the Blue Lake Walk.
Rescuers set off on a convoy of six-wheeler motorbikes, but called a stop to the rescue after a 45-degree snow drift stopped them in their tracks. They trekked the remaining one kilometre and brought the group back to safety.
With the 2021 snow season already underway and poor conditions forecast over the coming days, Monaro Police District Detective Inspector Neil Grey is reminding hikers to stick to designated tracks.
“Bad weather and snow cloud can very quickly and easily disorientate even the most experienced of hikers.
“It’s vital for hikers to carry an EPIRB to narrow down their location when phone reception is poor, and weather is rapidly deteriorating.
“If it weren’t for the quick response by our emergency services, this could have ended badly,” Detective Inspector Grey said.
Jonathan How from the Bureau of Meteorology told the ABC the forecast cold front would likely bring heavy rain and snow down to 900 metres in South Australia from Tuesday before hitting the Grampians in Victoria and Central Highlands in Tasmania.
Heavy falls are expected in Victoria’s alpine regions just in time for this weekend’s opening of the ski season.
“It’s really looking like a multistate, multihazard event for millions of Australians – a bit of a rude shock to the system,” he said.
He said temperatures up to eight degrees below average would make conditions feel Antarctic. Adelaide, Melbourne and Hobart will particularly feel the pinch on Tuesday, while Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane will shiver throughout Wednesday and Thursday.
The front will bring heavy falls in most capital cities, followed by an icy blast and a coastal low that will bring rainfalls of between 50-100 millimetres in some regions.
The snow is expected to make its way north, dusting the Blue Mountains and Central and Northern Tablelands in NSW. The hills around Canberra can also expect a coating.
Weatherzone’s Ben Domensino said the “Polar Express is almost here!”
“A polar air mass will spread over southern and eastern Australia this week, causing widespread rain, flooding, thunderstorms, damaging winds, low-level snow and hail,” he wrote.
The Darling Downs in Queensland might get snow on Wednesday.
“For Queensland, it certainly is quite unusual but not unheard of,” Mr How said.
“They generally only see snow every two to three years.
“The last significant snowfall event for northern NSW and southern Queensland was back in 2015,” he told the ABC.