Fans roared as snow began to fall in remarkable scenes during the AFL match between Greater Western Sydney and Hawthorn in Canberra on Friday night.
The bizarre development came at the end of a day of deadly wild weather that saw southern Australia bear the brunt of the worst winter outbreak this year.
Strong winds will continue to lash parts of NSW throughout the weekend but the worst of the severe weather has passed.
Winds in Victoria are expected to ease significantly on Saturday but it’s still set to be very cold and wet, with falls of 20-40mm forecast for central Victoria and parts of Gippsland.
Snow is expected down to 500m over the weekend, while Melbourne is forecast to reach just 11C on Saturday and 12C on Sunday.
The match at Manuka Oval was understood to be the first AFL game played in snow conditions, but it didn’t catch the locals off guard with some fans sporting ski goggles in the stands.
Shoutout to the 11,741 brave souls who've toughed it out through wind, rain and snow at UNSW Canberra Oval tonight! pic.twitter.com/ybwOBva6Qy
— GWS GIANTS (@GWSGIANTS) August 9, 2019
But on a day in which a woman was rescued from a flooded creek in South Australia, dozens of flights cancelled in Sydney due to gale-force winds and a seaside pier washed away in Victoria, it was a tragic death outside Melbourne that illustrated the full impact of the polar blast.
One woman tragically died and two children and a man were taken to hospital after a tree fell on the family’s car in Victoria’s Yarra Ranges during the severe storms that have wreaked havoc across three states.
Victoria Police on Friday afternoon said the woman was a front-seat passenger in the car and died at the scene.
The male driver was airlifted to hospital in a critical condition, while one child was airlifted to hospital with life-threatening injuries and the other taken to hospital by road ambulance with minor injuries.
Police said a gum tree fell onto the moving car as it was driving up the Maroondah Highway at Fernshaw on the Black Spur about 9.30am on Friday.
The tree crashed across the front of the car, crushing its bonnet and windscreen.
More than 700 people people called Victoria’s State Emergency Service for help, mostly for fallen trees, as the damaging cold front swept the state.
3 people are being taken to hospital after a horrific crash on the Black Spur near Healesville.
A tree came down on their car at about 9:40am.
One person remains trapped in the wreckage. @10NewsFirstMelb pic.twitter.com/W6lgJpOVKr
— Annie Kearney (@anniemaykearney) August 9, 2019
Earlier, rough seas on Port Phillip Bay crashed into Frankston Pier, tearing off the end structure and washing it ashore.
Frankston worker Chris Ransom saw the piece of the pier floating away from his office building and told the ABC it appeared it was heading north.
The area experienced wind gusts of more than 110km/h on Friday morning as a deep polar low moved across the region, leading to flight cancellations and bringing warnings of traffic chaos and blizzards.
“This is the coldest outbreak the south-east has seen this year,” Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster Rohan Smyth said.
The weather bureau says three low-pressure systems are to blame for the high winds and sub-zero temperatures, with a forecast of more to come over the next 24 hours.
The weather caused chaos at Sydney airport, with more than 180 domestic flights in and out of the city cancelled by 6pm.
No international flights have been cancelled, but the average delay has been between 30 and 40 minutes.
A Newcastle nursing home had its roof torn off as winds of up to 100km/h lashed NSW’s Central Coast. None of the 30 residents were injured.
In South Australia, conditions had eased early on Friday, but more than 5500 customers remained without power after outages across the state.
A woman was rescued from a “wildly rushing” flooded creek after being trapped in the water for about 40 minutes, clinging on to a tree branch to stay afloat.
The woman slipped into a fast-flowing creek near her property at Mount Barker Springs, south-east of Adelaide, the ABC reported.
She said she had gone to check on her kangaroos, ducks and geese.
A police officer tied a rope around his waist and entered the water to rescue her.
Blizzard conditions were expected across alpine areas, with snow expected above 500 metres and flurries possible for the Dandenong Ranges.
Following the passage of a major front on Thursday, a second front crossed the eastern part of NSW on Friday.
A third front is expected on Saturday, bringing a major cold snap.
Vigorous westerly winds were affecting much of the state, especially the south-east, including Sydney, the Blue Mountains and the Hunter region, the Bureau of Meteorology said.