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'A very rare event': Australian city covered in snow for first time in 40 years

Parts of Tasmania have been blanketed in snow for the first time in about 40 years as a wintry blast transformed it and areas of Victoria into a winter wonderland.

Launceston was hammered by snow as the temperature at the airport plummeted below zero just after 9pm on Tuesday while Scottsdale, to the northwest, reached 0.9 degrees about half an hour later.

It was all caused by an air mass moving north from Antarctica.

Snow seen fallen on a Launceston field in Tasmania.
Snowfall seen in Launceston, Tasmania on Wednesday morning. Source: Henry Reed via Storyful

Bureau of Meteorology Matthew Thomas told Yahoo News Australia the snow forming in Tasmania’s north is a weather event not seen in the area for about 40 years.

“The last time we saw snow settle in Launceston was in the early 1970s,” Mr Thomas said.

“It’s a very rare event for Tasmania. We also saw some snow settled in Hobart with the last two occurrences in 1986 and 2015.

“However, it’s not uncommon to see snow in the south of Tasmania.”

Settled snow is when it forms on the ground. Snowfall, while it is fairly uncommon, does occur in Australia but it’s rare to have it pile it up where you can physically step in it.

Mr Thomas added BOM doesn’t record snowfall either as it’s mostly recorded as rain. This is because it melts fairly quickly.

Weatherzone meteorologist Ben Domensino described it as “a historic event for Tasmania”.

“Grindelwald - a Swiss-themed village just north of Launceston - was looking a little more Swiss than usual this morning. At 190m above sea level in northern Tasmania, this is a rare sight,” he tweeted.

‘2020 gets weirder and weirder’

On social media, people marvelled at the conditions. Some people filmed and pictured themselves skiing and snowboarding through Launceston’s CBD.

“I’m 61 years old. Never seen it snow in Launceston,” one man tweeted.

Tasmania’s Mount Field National Park covered in  snow.
Tasmania’s Mount Field National Park blanketed in snow. Source: islanddiaries_tasmania via Storyful

People described it as a “winter wonderland” while the Prospect Hawks Football Club were filmed training on a sodden, snow-covered field on Tuesday night.

“2020 gets weirder and weirder,” one woman tweeted.

Another woman called it “so magical”.

Members of the Prospect Hawks Football Club kick a football in driving snow at Gallagher Prospect Park in Launceston, Tasmania.
Footy players from the Prospect Hawks Football Club don't let the snow get in the way of training at Gallagher Prospect Park in Launceston. Source: Facebook/ Prospect Hawks Football Club

Some areas could still receive more snow too. Weatherzone meteorologist Joel Pippard said it’s “likely” we’ll see some more snow but the air mass has already begun to warm up.

Launceston’s forecast for a blistering low of -1 and -2 on Thursday and Friday with tops of 12.

Residents in Hobart can expect warmer temperatures to end the working week with lows of about 5 and highs at about 11.

Victoria’s ‘once in a decade event’

Victoria also received some snowfall in what BOM duty forecaster Tom Delamotte called a “once in 10 years” event.

Dandenong and Yarra Ranges and the Alpine regions were all blanketed with snow while some suburbs around Melbourne, including Sunbury in the northwest, also received a dusting on Tuesday with some snow overnight.

Snow seen fallen on a playground in Sunbury, Victoria.
Sunbury, northwest of Melbourne, covered in snow on Tuesday. Source: Getty Images

“For a few places this was the first time in 10 years they received snow,” Mr Delamotte said.

“In the Dandenong Ranges, where they commonly get snow, it was the most significant snowfall since 2008 as well.

“In Melbourne’s CBD it doesn’t happen very often either. It’s hard to tell how much actually fell but it lines up to a one in 10-year kind of event.”

Colac, southwest of Melbourne, Parkeland, northwest of the CBD, and Colac, in the state’s west, also received snow as did some of the state’s Gippsland region.

While the snow won’t stick around in Melbourne - it’s likely the cold temperatures will for the rest of the week.

Thursday and Friday are set for a max of 12 and low of about 5 in the CBD while Dandenong can expect similar temperatures.

Snow also fell in southern NSW with more possible on Wednesday night. Bombala and Delegate were among the towns close to the Victorian border that were blanketed with snow on Wednesday morning.

Snows falls in Colac, Victoria.
Snow comes down in Colac in the state's west. Source: Tagan J Brown via Storyful

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