|A pair of lows, the secondary with a central
pressure of 988hPa off NE TAS and its parent low of 966hPa close to Antarctica,
conspired to create a southerly airstream extending all the way from polar
regions to Australia's southeast today. The Indian and Southern Ocean analysis
above is for 10pm Friday, and shows the front marking the leading edge
of the cold air moving into NSW. BoM
winter weather sweeps southeastern states
High seas caused death and injury, snow fell to low levels in VIC
and Melbourne had its coldest August day in 26 years today as winds straight
from the Antarctic cut through southeastern states. In a day characterised
mostly by wintry conditions, bushfires, flooding and duststorms also figured
in an extraordinary mix.
Hardest hit was VIC. The 122m container ship Aotearoa Chief was struck
by a large wave after it left Port Phillip Bay around 6pm. The pilot had just
transferred from the ship to the pilot boat and two of the ship's crew were
hauling in the ladder when the wave struck, swamping the deck, killing one
of the men and breaking the leg of another. The seas were whipped up by strong
southerly winds which had peaked during the late morning with gusts of 100km/h
on South Channel Island in southern Port Phillip Bay, 98km/h at Cape Otway
and 93km/h at Airey's Inlet. While the swell height was estimated at 4 to 6m,
the wave that broke over the Aotearoa Chief is thought to have been
much higher, the result of two waves of different wavelength and period combining
briefly in a confused sea.
Snow was reported in central western VIC at Kyneton (510m asl), Maryborough
(250m), Woodend (560m), Macedon (500m) and Daylesford (610m), but strong winds
High windchills caused sporting fixtures to be called off in Trentham, while
footballers at matches in Melbourne and Castlemaine had to be treated for hypothermia.
There was heavy tree damage from wind throughout the region. Melbourne's top
temperature of 9.8C was its coldest day in 6 years, and coldest August day
in 26 years. Substantial rain was recorded in the city's water catchment areas,
however, with up to 60mm in the 48 hours to 9am Sunday. Weeaproinah, in the
Otway Ranges SW of Melbourne, recorded 79.4mm for the two days.
Heavy rain fell in NE TAS with top falls for the 24 hours to 9am just below
50mm. Rain eased in the southeast of the state, however, with minor flooding
in the Jordan and lower Derwent Rivers easing. Snow was reported from the central,
western and northeastern highland areas, and sleet was reported at Cape Bruny.
Strong wind ahead of the front produced widespread dust and some dust storms
continue in QLD, NSW
Hundreds of homes were evacuated and roads closed in SE QLD today
as about 20 fires flared in the warm, dry and windy conditions ahead of the
front. Fires were also widespread in NE NSW.
In SE QLD, fires burned across Brisbane, the Gold Coast, and areas around
Ipswich, Toowoomba, Gympie and Maryborough. Temperatures were up to 6° above
average, with Brisbane City recording a top of 27. The most serious fires were
at Calamvale in SW Brisbane where a state of emergency was declared and over
100 homes evacuated as grass fires reached property boundaries. Only one shed
was lost. On the Gold Coast, several massive grass fires forced police to evacuate
homes and close roads. The QLD Sunday Mail reported that fires also burned
in the Ipswich-Toowoomba areas of Coolana, Haigslea and Withcott; Esk in the
Brisbane Valley; Currumbin
Valley and Mudgeeraba on the Gold Coast; Howard, near Maryborough; and Widgee
in the Gympie State Forest. Smaller fires were also reported around Brisbane
at Rochedale, Forestdale, Eatons Hill, Mansfield, Victoria Point, Richlands
and Oxley. By the end of the day, eight fires remained burning
out of control.
In NE NSW, a fire at Jackadgery, 40km WNW of Grafton, had burnt through 4,000ha
by late today, closing the Gwydir Highway linking Grafton to Glen Innes. Smaller
fires were reported from Billinudgel, 20km NNW of Byron Bay, and near Coffs
Harbour. Farther south, fires were reported around Lake Macquarie, and in Sydney's
west at Penrith.