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Australia: Blizzards, gale-force winds, heavy rain continue

The cold snap that brought blizzards, snow, gale-force winds and heavy rain across parts of continental Australia over the weekend is set to continue well into the week.

A major cold front has with good snow falls recorded in the Alpine region and a light dusting in the Central Tablelands.

However, what is shaping up to be a boon for the state’s ski resorts created havoc on the roads as the school holidays ended, with two highways closed for a period on Sunday morning.

Meteorologists from the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) said the low-pressure system, which was bringing the cold front and snow, was expected to last for most of the week ahead.

“Later in the week there is another upper-level trough moving through and there will be very cold air with that,” BoM senior forecaster Neil Fraser said.

“So the snow will continue right through most of the week, if not all the week.”

Despite being closed early on Sunday morning, the Mitchell Highway reopened between Lithgow and Mount Lambie and the Great Western Highway in both directions.

Victorians could expect blizzard conditions, with strong winds, heavy rain and snowfall heading into today, the BoM warned.

“We had a fair bit [of rain] yesterday, it’s still rainy in the west and we’ll see another band come across the east of the state,” senior forecaster Phil King said.

A gale-force wind warning is current for Victoria’s East Gippsland coast.

“As the low-pressure system develops and intensifies east of Gabo Island … we’ll see the winds pick up, heavy rain through Gippsland, further snowfalls in alpine areas and strong to gale force winds,” Mr King said.

Mr King said while the cold snap was Victoria’s chilliest since the start of June, it was not unusual for this time of year.

“The system that we’re seeing crossing the state is a severe system, it’s brought cold conditions, snow down to low levels around 800 metres, we had snow at Mt Macedon and the Grampians,” he said.

“We get these kind of systems three or four times a year, it’s a system that brings much-welcome rain and snowfall to Victoria during the winter period.

“They’re important part of our climate and they’re not that unusual, but they are severe.”

Snowfall was also recorded in the western outskirts of Australian Capital Territory on Sunday morning, with Corin Forest reporting five centimetres of snow overnight.

A dusting of snow could clearly be seen in the Brindabellas.

Stormy weather damages roofs, homes

In Adelaide, gale-force winds brought down trees and powerlines on Saturday night in the wake of the cold snap that saw snow fall in parts of the Adelaide Hills and the state’s mid-north.

SA’s highest recorded gust in the wake of the strong cold front that crossed the state was 98 kilometres per hour at Hindmarsh Island, with other gusts of about 70 kilometres per hour during the night.

The stormy weather also caused damage to roofs and homes, and the State Emergency Service had about 60 callouts over the weekend.

BoM’s SA duty forecaster, Paul Bierman, said while no more snow was likely, conditions would stay cold for the next few days.

“We stay in a south-westerly airstream for the next few days and it’s drawing a lot of air from very far south of the continent,” he said.

“For Adelaide, we’re seeing maximum temperatures of around 13 or 14 degrees Celsius every day for the next seven days.”

Australia’s most southern state however largely escaped the weather pattern affecting other eastern states and enjoyed relatively mild winter temperatures.

Cold snaps earlier this winter have left higher parts of Tasmania blanketed in snow, where it remains in some places.

While the mercury has plummeted at night leaving frosty mornings, recent days have been chilly and wet in parts but not freezing.

– Weatherzone/ABC


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