Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Frigid weather Down-Under

It’s colder in parts of Australia than in Siberia, Greenland and northern Canada
THE sunbaked country is one of the coldest parts of the world right now, but there’s a pretty good reason we haven’t seen snow.

7 July, 2017

WINTER’S icy embrace of Australia continues unabated. In parts of NSW, the mercury sank so low on Friday morning into subzero territory it would have been balmier to witness the dawn in Iceland, Tierra del Fuego or even Siberia.

Even the most northerly inhabited place on earth, the hamlet of Alert in Canada — a hop, skip and a sled from the North Pole — was warmer than the Snowy Mountains last night.

In the wee hours, temperatures plunged to -7.2C at Cooma Airport. Alert could only managed a positively tropical 3C.

Cooma currently colder than this place near the North Pole, surrounded by icebergs. Picture: Google Maps.
Cooma currently colder than this place near the North Pole, surrounded by icebergs. Picture: Google Maps.Source:Supplied

But despite the big chill there’s not a lot of snow about, leading ski bunnies to ask where in the world has all the white stuff been? The good news is the powder is now pouncing.

A stubborn high pressure system has helped keep the temperatures down. Both Bathurst and Bombala dipped to -5.3C overnight, Thredbo went to -5.7C, parts of Sydney’s west were at -1.5C at 7am while Victoria’s Mt Hotham fell to -4.5C.

In contrast, parts of the world famous for being freezing have got nothing on Australia right now. Take a look at the places the sunbaked country is currently out freezing.

Cape Dyer, Nunavut — the coldest spot in Canada yesterday: -6.7C
Thule Air Base, northern Greenland: 2C
Reykjavik, Iceland: 2C
Tomsk, Siberia, Russia: 8C.

Tomsk, Siberia: Balmy compared to Australia.
Tomsk, Siberia: Balmy compared to Australia.Source:News Corp Australia

Now, we know what you’re thinking. Isn’t it summer in the northern hemisphere? So maybe it’s going to be a little bit warmer. But the same story is played out in the southern hemisphere too, with our wintry peers also unable to measure up.

Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina: 1C
Queenstown, New Zealand: -5C
Sutherland, coldest town in South Africa: 8C

Winter records have been smashed across NSW and Victoria. The NSW Murray River town of Deniliquin recorded its coldest temperature in 110 years with the mercury dipping to just -5.6C last week.

However, according to Sky News Weather Meteorologist Tom Saunders there’s a pretty good reason why we didn’t see a lot of snow last month — and it’s all to do with a drier than normal June. No rain means no snow.

This was the result of high pressure systems sitting further south than usual,” Mr Saunders said.

The natural snow depth at Spencers Creek (NSW Snowy Mountains) was only 4cm at the end of the month — well below the average of about 70cm at the beginning of July.”

Listen up snow bunnies it’s time to get excited because there’s more snow on the way. Picture: Sky News
Listen up snow bunnies it’s time to get excited because there’s more snow on the way. Picture: Sky NewsSource:Supplied

Mr Saunders said snow has fallen this week with 10-20cm of powder already recorded across most resorts. And get the skis out because more is on the way.
Another pair of fronts should bring a further 10 to 15cm of snow from Friday to Sunday,” he said.

The snow level will vary from 1000m to 1200m during this period, so snow will only accumulate across the Alpine regions.

It has also snowed on the WA Stirling ranges twice in the past week.”

June in Australia is traditionally unpredictable when it comes to the amount of snow that falls. Heavier falls are usually guaranteed in July and August.

Rhylla Morgan, spokeswoman for Mt Buller ski resort, said while June had been very dry, decent falls had finally arrived.

Snow falls have hit Mt Buller, but there’s plenty more on the way this weekend. Picture: Andre Railton /Mt Buller
Snow falls have hit Mt Buller, but there’s plenty more on the way this weekend. Picture: Andre Railton /Mt BullerSource:Supplied

We had 12cm of snow add to our gauges here at Mt Buller yesterday and a cold night which enabled more snow-making,” she said.

Eight lifts are in operation and we have an average cover of 20-39cm on runs open with a terrain park also open for freestyle tricks and jumps.”

Ms Morgan said snow was forecast for tomorrow and the start of the week with another 10-20cm expected.

June is often unpredictable (for snow falls) and sometimes we get lucky,” she said.

But while June was dry we still had lots of blue sky which was fortunate.”

Kids are already getting into the spirit at Mt Buller. Picture: Andre Railton/Mt Buller
Kids are already getting into the spirit at Mt Buller. Picture: Andre Railton/Mt BullerSource:Supplied

She said the resort opened a week earlier than usual this season with early falls in May, which allowed a decent cover while snow making machines had been hard at work.

Ms Morgan said the resort hit a high of just 3C today and temperatures of between -2C and 4C were ideal for snow falls.

Perisher spokesman Richard Phillips said the resort had been bitterly cold and it hadn’t had a lot of fresh snow until recently.

The resort was hit with 20cm of snow overnight and another decent fall will hit tomorrow.

It’s -3C here at the moment,” he said.

But we had 20cm yesterday and with another 15cm predicted we are in for an awesome weekend.”

Mr Phillips said temperatures as low as -10C were recorded.

He said cold temperatures in May provided a good start to the season but the past month had been especially dry.


Four days of hell: worst storm of year bears down on New Zealand
Potential snow accumulation through 12am Thursday. For the mid & upper South Island, this represents only about 1/2 of the storm! ❄️🌨☃

10 July, 2017

The country is preparing for its worst winter storm of the year with rain, snow and gales set to batter much of New Zealand.
As the first week of the school holidays gets under way MetService is warning the vicious cold front is expected to hit tomorrow and last for the next four days.
Snow is expected to fall to very low levels in the south of the country with potentially damaging gales, torrential rain and snow lashing the country from Gisborne south.
The Milford Rd is closing at 5pm with significant snow forecast to about 500m by tomorrow morning.
The road will reopen as soon as crews have cleared the snowfall likely by mid-morning tomorrow, a Transport Agency spokesman said.
Weatherwatch.co.nz is forecasting the snow to fall down to sea level across Southland and Otago tomorrow night with virtually nowhere in the South Island escaping a wintry white-out.
Travel across the country is expected to grind to a halt and farmers are being told to move livestock ahead of the wintry blast.
Coastal regions are being put on alert with possible flooding from strong onshore winds, high waves and heavy rain colliding in the storm. Sailings across Cook Strait could be in jeopardy with Niwa predicting waves of up to 4m by Thursday.
Snow is expected to fall for two straight days across the South Island - in some areas down to 100m in southernmost regions and down to 200m in Canterbury - followed by a bitterly cold southerly wind.
This morning a swathe of road snowfall warnings for major alpine passes and Dunedin's northern highway have been issued for coming days.
Projections show some alpine areas will get up to 1m of snow over the coming 72 hours.
On Wednesday the weather will continue to worsen as it tracks north with severe gales, heavy rain and snow set to strike the centre of the country.
Gales are expected to batter Taranaki to Gisborne south and heavy rain is expected to fall across the lower half of the North Island.
Snow is expected to bring disruption to central and eastern areas with forecasters predicting it will fall down to 600m across Wairarapa, Hawke's Bay and east of Taupo.
Weatherwatch.co.nz says the Wellington region could be hit by snow flurries down to 500m by dawn on Wednesday.
The weather is not expected to let up until Friday when it moves away from the North Island

Ready for some ❄️❄️❄️? The atmosphere is setting up to produce on both Islands this week, just in time for school holidays ⛷
MetService forecaster Ciarin Doolin said with the wild weather is expected to affect many parts of both islands and people could expect roads across the country to become snowbound.
"This front is expected to bring significant severe weather, affecting many parts of New Zealand from Tuesday to Wednesday, including heavy rain, snow and severe gales, and may cause disruption to transport and stress to livestock. It is also worth noting that for coastal areas exposed to a strong onshore flow, high waves and heavy rain could lead to inundation," said Doolin.
"There is still a degree of uncertainty in the computer models regarding the mid-week severe weather event, so people are advised to keep up to date with the latest Severe Weather Outlook. It is highly likely that Severe Weather Watches or Warnings will be issued nearer to the event."
Canterbury's Civil Defence Emergency Management warned residents to prepare for the approaching storm.
In previous years, heavy snowfall and gales have led to road closures and power outages affecting large parts of Canterbury, the group said.
Motorists considering driving over mountain passes in winter were advised to take chains with them in case of snow and to check road conditions and the weather forecast before setting out.
Meanwhile, a perfect storm of rain and freezing temperatures in Otago and Southland made for some of the most treacherous driving conditions in decades, the Otago Daily Times reports.
A number of road ice warnings are in place in Otago/Southland. Go here for details .^SM
Police responded to more than 40 crashes across the South at the weekend and warned drivers to stay off the roads on Saturday morning and last night. Police put out warnings about Southland, Central Otago and the Waitaki last night.
The coldest temperature recorded by the MetService was -6.3C in Alexandra on Saturday morning.
The MetService is forecasting freezing temperatures to continue. Frosts were expected this morning, and snow to 200m in Otago tomorrow.
Lawrence Volunteer Fire Brigade chief fire officer Rory Tisdall said driving conditions were at the "most extreme" on Saturday morning.
"I have been in the Lawrence brigade for 24 years and the conditions over this weekend were the most serious I've seen," Tisdall said.
On Saturday, temperatures of about -6C in places, combined with rain about 6am, created the "perfect storm" for severe black ice, he said.
The most serious of the crashes he attended involved a van which rolled after hitting ice on State Highway 8 near the Beaumont Hotel and Holiday Park about 10.30am on Saturday.
The van was being used by Green Island Football Club's premier team to get to a game in Queenstown and teenager Matt Milton was airlifted to hospital after suffering serious "crush injuries" to his hand, shoulder and leg in the crash. The game with Queenstown was called off.
Sergeant Brent Kingsland, of Invercargill, said the same conditions had caused "havoc" in Southland and it was "very lucky" there were no serious injuries.
"There were vehicle crashes all over the show," Kingsland said.
He had worked in Invercargill for 16 years and the icy conditions were the worst he had seen.
Police in Southland attended about 28 crashes on Saturday.
In Queenstown a man who was clocked at 179km/h in Gibbston on Saturday was charged with driving at a dangerous speed.
Acting Senior Sergeant Jared Kirk said the 40-year-old was caught speeding in a 100km/h zone on SH6, near Victoria Flats Rd, about 3.25pm.
The man had his licence suspended immediately, and will appear in the Queenstown District Court on July 24.
"There is still black ice and loose grit across many of our roads, so to hear of driving behaviour like this is extremely disappointing.
"It's clear the message is not getting through to some drivers."
Some things to consider, from Canterbury Civil Defence:

Review your travel plans for the week; avoid driving if possible, otherwise keep driving to a minimum.
Allow extra travel time if you do need to drive.
Do a thorough check of the vehicle and all equipment before driving. Travel with extra clothing, food, water, and a phone charger.

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