Weather Snow and freezing weather as polar blast hits SE Australia

Snow and freezing weather as polar blast hits SE Australia

Eastern Australia has been shivering under an early winter polar blast

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The first day of winter has brought the chilliest day of the year yet, with icy winds leaving the southern states shivering and snow falling to low levels in some areas.

For millions of Australians shivering in the polar blast there’s more bad news – the biting cold won’t ease for a few days yet.

A low-pressure system over the south-eastern Tasman Sea is directing bitterly cold and blustery winds across NSW and Victoria.

In NSW, there has been snow in the central tablelands towns of Blayney, Bathurst, Oberon and west of Lithgow, as well on as the southern ranges.

The Bureau of Meteorology said overnight temperatures fell to just 1 degree in Orange and about 1.5 degrees at Bathurst. But “feels like” temperatures were much worse: In Orange it “felt like” -8 degrees.

Plummeting temperatures also brought snow to the nation’s capital Canberra as ministers were sworn in on Wednesday.

Snow has also fallen near Ballarat in central Victoria, and on the Macedon Ranges north of Melbourne.

Tasmanians are also enduring an early winter blast, with snow down as low as 1100 metres.

The Bureau of Meteorology said windy and cold conditions were likely to persist throughout Wednesday as a high-pressure system moved in.


For Sydney-siders, that means the coldest day of 2022 so far, with a top of just 15 degrees forecast. Western Sydney residents faced gusts up to 100km/h overnight with the BOM issuing a severe weather warning for damaging winds of 60-70km/h on and east of the Great Dividing Range.

Several areas through the Illawarra have also recorded wind gusts of more than 90km/h, while Newcastle, Sydney, Wollongong, Nowra, Armidale, Canberra and Goulburn are all likely to cop severe weather.

But Sydney residents should spare a thought for residents of the national capital (top forecast for Wednesday – 8 degrees) and Melbourne and Hobart (forecast highs for both – 12 degrees).

In NSW, State Emergency Service Assistant Commissioner Dean Storey said it had been a wild night, with about 1400 calls for help since Monday. Falling trees have been the greatest hazard.

Clean-ups were underway across NSW on Wednesday, he said.

“We’re looking and hoping to see that wild weather and the strong winds ease as we go into this afternoon and this evening, and until then we are just urging the community to be vigilant,” he said.

“Be cautious if out on the roads. It’s widespread, but yesterday and overnight, the Hunter region got hit pretty hard.”

But not everyone is complaining about the cold. NSW snowfields will open early this weekend, with Thredbo resort reporting 19 centimetres of snow in the past six days, and Perisher getting 22 centimetres in the same period.

South of the border, Mount Buller Ski Lifts’ Rhylla Morgan said snow was just “piling up” on Victorian skifields.

“It started on Monday afternoon and it really hasn’t stopped,” she told Sky News Australia.

“The whole place is just transformed.”

There is some relief in sight, but not for a couple of days.

The weather bureau said the strong cold front that has brought the Antarctic-like conditions is moving away and temperatures should start rising slightly by Friday.

No more snow is forecast this week.

“That likelihood will have passed,” meteorologist Helen Reid said.

“When we get to Friday, we’re expecting temperatures just to be just a fraction warmer.

“While we have showers on the forecast, we’re not expecting snow as much of a feature given the atmosphere will have moved on in a sense

The plummeting mercury across south-eastern Australia comes after confirmation Sydney has just endured its wettest autumn on record.

The NSW capital’s 1008.4 millimetres of rain between March and May was its highest autumn total in records dating back to 1859, Weatherzone meteorologist Ben Domensino said.

The January-to-May period was also Sydney’s wettest on record.