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Saturday 27 May 2000

Polar outbreak spreads from SA into Victoria and NSW 31May00
A massive surge of polar air swept from South Australia into Victoria and New South Wales today, bringing gales, snow, heavy rain and record low daytime temperatures.

South Australians were greeted by the unusual spectacle of snow settling on the ground. At Yongala, in the higher parts of the northern Mt Lofty Ranges 200km north of Adelaide and 515m above sea level, snow fell for several hours around dawn, while snow also fell overnight around Mt Lofty, just east of the capital. 2cm of snow was reported on the ground near Hallett, with 10cm on Mt Bryan, just east of the town. Cold squally southwesterly winds, hail, heavy showers and isolated thunderstorms continued through the day, with Neptune Island reporting gale force winds until around 2pm, and a top wind gust of 115km/h at 7.20am. Hail created icy driving conditions in places, and caused three accidents on the Princes Highway near Salt Creek on the Coorong, while downed trees caused a serious accident on the Millicent to Penola road early Sunday morning.

The Mt Lofty summit automatic weather station set a new South Australian record low May maximum temperature when the sensor only rose to 3.5 during the day. Warooka on Yorke Peninsula and Eudunda in the northern Barossa Valley both recorded record low minimum temperatures for May, despite the windy conditions. Mount Gambier's top temperature during the day was 6.6, well below its record low May maximum of 8.3 set in 1952. However, the temperature rose overnight to peak at 9 around 4am Sunday, robbing the city of a new record as the Australian weather "day" is for 24 hours to 9am on the next calendar day. Similarly, the Adelaide Bureau Regional Forecasting Centre at Kent Town recorded a top of 11.1, beating the previous record of 11.2 set as far back as 1892 at a slightly different location, but a rising temperature overnight increased the official figure to 12.5.

Maximum temperatures were 6 to 10 degrees below normal across a large part of southern Australia today.

In Victoria, cold, wet and windy conditions spread across the state, with snowfalls reported at Casterton, Hamilton and Harrow in the Western District, and at Trentham, 50km east of Ballarat, Mt Macedon (up to 15cm on the ground), and at Olinda, only 500m above sea level in the Dandenong Ranges. Snow also fell at Weeaproinah in the Otway Ranges during the morning, as the temperature at the small settlement, 490m above sea level, recorded a temperature of 0.3. Snow also fell at nearby Lavers Hill between 8 and 10am, with 2cm accumulation. Melbourne City's top temperature of 10.2 was the coldest May day since 1977, while at Ballarat the mercury only reached 5 and at Bendigo 7. Snow fell through the day at alpine resorts, with Mount Hotham recording a top temperature of only -5.2. Much-needed rain fell in the state's far southwest with totals between 25 and 50mm, and similar gaugings were made in the northeast.

In New South Wales, the cold front dropped temperatures to close to freezing as it passed, and gave Canberra, Orange and the Oberon area brief snow mid-afternoon. However, as well as being cold, the air was dry and snowfalls were light.  Snowy Mountains resorts were jubilant as up to half a metre of snow fell in cold moist northwesterlies ahead of the front. Kosciuszko Chalet reported 20cm of snow on the ground at 9am, and 45cm at 3pm, while Thredbo reported 10cm in the Village at 3pm. Strong winds accompanied very cold temperatures for May on the Blue Mountains, with Mount Boyce reporting 40 km/h winds with a temperature just above zero from late afternoon, after a peak gust of 93km/h as the front passed.

Today's highest rainfall totals for the 24 hours to 9am

86.0 Lake Augusta Tas
69.8 Liawenee Tas
61.0 Harrietville Vic
59.0 Cashmere AP Portland Vic

Other heavy falls in SE SA and Vic:
45.6 Cape Northumberland SA
45.2 Whitlands Vic
44.6 Yackandandah Vic
42.8 Nelson Vic
42.6 Portland Vic
42.0 Cape Nelson Vic
41.0 Falls Ck Vic
39.8 Kingston SE SA

Today's highest & lowest temps

Other extremes

Cape Jaffa SA: 16mm in 3h to 6am
Lord Howe Island NSW: 48mm in 9h to 9am, 15mm falling in 1h to 3am

Wind gusts:
Neptune Island SA: 115km/h at 7.22am, 10 min average of 93km/h at 2.37am
Mt Boyce NSW: 91km/h at 10am
Thredbo Crackenback NSW: 107km/h at 1.09am

Records set this day

Lowest minimum temperature for May (previous record and years of computer record shown in brackets):
Warooka SA:
3.8 (4.7, 36)
Eudunda SA: 0.6 (0.7, 33)

Lowest maximum temperature for May (previous record and date shown in brackets):
Snowtown SA: 11.4 (11.5, 19/5/1981)
Mildura AP Vic: 10.2 (10.6, 29/5/1963)
Kerang Vic: 8.9 (9.7, 31/5/1977)
Deniliquin NSW: 8.5 (9.3, 31/5/1977)
Bathurst ARS 4.6 on 30th (5.1, 31/1977*)
Dubbo# 8.5 on 30th/8.9 on 29th (9.9, 31/1969)
Canberra 4.3 on 28th (6.0, 5/1949)
Wyalong 8.5 on 28th (8.6, 31/1977*)

(Thanks to Blair Trewin for low maximum details.)

Maximum Minimum
34.0 Jabiru AP NT 27.0 McCluer Is NT
-5.0 Crackenback NSW -5.2 Mt Hotham Vic
-5.0 Crackenback NSW

Greatest variations from normal

Maximum Minimum
26.8 Double Is Pt LH Qld
17.2 Gayndah PO Qld
5.0 Tumbarumba NSW
8.5 Deniliquin PO NSW
5.9 Dartmouth Reservoir Vic
-1.0 Yeelirrie WA

  • Times stated are the clock time in force in the relevant state or territory

  • Stories, including those in the archives, are as new and corrected information becomes available, with updates underlined

  • Australian Weather News gratefully acknowledges the Bureau of Meteorology as the collector and main source of meteorological data in Australia, along with the thousands of observers who record the weather and rainfall daily. I also thank Don White and the many contributors to the Aussie Weather mailing list who routinely provide much appreciated information.