Summer pause: cold weather forecast for south-east Australia to bring snow across Alps

Sharp temperature drops expected in SA, Victoria, NSW and Tasmania on Friday while north-east faces heatwave conditions

Break out the winter woolies. Temperatures across Australia’s south-east are set to plummet with some areas expected to experience their coldest February days in two decades on Friday.

A strong cold front is pushing up from southern Australia and is forecast to sweep across South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania on Friday.

The front will bring sharp temperature drops across major cities, with a minimum of 12C forecast for Melbourne and 13C for Adelaide.

Regional centres like Ballarat, Bendigo and Wagga Wagga are expected to have their coldest February day in 18 years on Friday, with temperatures forecast to drop below 14C.

Across the southern states, temperatures are forecast to sit between 10C and 16C, with Hobart expected to have a minimum temperature of just 9C.

The cold will also bring snow across the alps, with some flurries expected at elevations between 1,300 and 1,500 metres.

And while it is not the first time snow has fallen in the alps in February, Dean Narramore, a Bureau of Meteorology senior meteorologist, said it is unusual.

“For many, Thursday and Friday will feel like winter days rather than the middle of summer,” he said.

“And it is pretty unusual for this time of year, particularly seeing these temperatures well below average, well into northern SA and inland parts of northern Victoria and NSW. At this stage, it’s not quite record breaking, but some locations may approach some of the coldest February days on record.

“The snow is not something we see every summer, but something we can see from time to time every few years, when we get these kinds of strong cold fronts.”

Normally at this time of year, high pressure systems sit over southern Australia, blocking these stronger fronts from coming through. But a strong high pressure system west of Perth is helping drive this cold air from south of the country.

Narramore said the snow on the Alps isn’t expected to be more than a few centimetres, and that the cold snap should ease by Saturday.

At the opposite end of the weather system, northern NSW and even the south of Queensland, will be facing sunnier, drier days. And Sydney and Newcastle are expected to experience multiple days of sun and heat.

Narramore said NSW in particular could face the strange situation of having heatwave conditions in the north, and wintery conditions to the south.

“Farther north, we’re talking heatwave conditions to north-east parts of NSW, south-east Queensland and much of the Queensland coast, we’re likely to see temperatures in the low- to mid-30s and high humidity as well,” he said.

“So that low intensity heatwave conditions extending from Cairns all the way down into north-east NSW, including Brisbane, Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast.”

Narramore said the humidity that had hit Sydney over the past week would lift, with a drier heat expected over the weekend.

“That’s because the winds will be coming off the continent rather than off the ocean,” he said. “Generally during the day, you will have those offshore winds, which will probably lead to more of a drier atmosphere, so it’s gonna be hot … very warm, sunny and dry during the day.”


Mostafa Rachwani

The GuardianTramp

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