New polar blast could bring blizzards as records break in Sydney, Brisbane

·8-min read

Winter has well and truly set in for the east coast of Australia, with Sydney and Brisbane's temperatures breaking records and no reprieve expected anytime soon.

Weatherzone Meteorologist Chris Matthews told Yahoo News Australia several places in the east are feeling extra cold right now thanks to the wind.

"It's so windy, the temperature might not be that cold, but the 'feels like' temperature is actually pretty extreme, and makes it seem even colder than maybe the numbers suggest," he said.

However, even without the added wind chill, some capitals are experiencing the coldest start to winter in decades.

Pictured is a map of Australia with the blue shading indicating where temperatures have dropped below zero.
Australia has had a cold start to winter, with the blue shading indicating where temperatures have dropped below zero. Source: Windy

More snowfall and strong winds could lead to blizzards

The Bureau of Meteorology warned at the start of the week that most of Australia should brace for colder days and nights in the coming days as cold air from the Southern Ocean moves across the country.

Jackson Browne, a senior Meteorologist at BOM, said the cool conditions will hang around for about a week, but there is a warm lull on the way the following Thursday and Friday.

"Temperatures over New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania settled back down from being felt at six degrees below average around two to four degrees below average," he said.

But come Saturday another polar blast from the south will see further snowfall in alpine regions and some severe weather warnings for damaging winds.

"We will see the snow levels of Tasmania drop drastically around 200 metres," Mr Browne said.

He added that lower-lying snow combined with strong winds could even result in a blizzard.

"It's quite rare to get blizzards around areas outside of the general [peak]... it's more or less at the top of Kosciusko."

Sydney's coldest start since Bob Hawke was PM

Sydney has had its coldest start to winter since 1989, or as Weatherzone put it, the first week of winter hadn't been this cold since Bob Hawke was leading the country.

The first seven days of June have been below 18.5 degrees at Observatory Hill, a first for NSW's capital in 33 years. The coldest day so far this month was June 1, when it was just 15.

For the next seven days in Sydney, the maximum temperature is forecast between 15 and 16, although it will be mostly sunny.

"It's looking like it will remain quite cool with these series of strong cold outbursts with cold air coming up from Antarctica and in the Southern Ocean, swinging through with a series of cold fronts, bringing strong westerly winds," Mr Matthews said.

Water splashes over the edge of the harbour during the sunset in the suburb of Kiribilli on August 30, 2020 in Sydney, Australia
The sun might be out in Sydney, but it's been the coldest start to winter in 30 years. Source: Getty Images

While Sydney was in lockdown for winter last year Sydneysiders might recall it not being this cold, and they would be correct. But this type of weather isn't out of the ordinary.

Mr Matthews explains we do get these "cold-start" periods, it just so happened this year, it's happened at the start of winter, so it's particularly noticeable after a relatively mild autumn.

On Wednesday morning it was just 1.5 degrees in Canberra, where temperatures have been slightly cooler this year when compared to last.

The highest temperature so far in June has been 12, whereas last year it was 17.4. As for the snowy regions, it was just -5 at the top of Mount Kosciuszko on Wednesday.

Brisbane's coldest winter start in over 30 years

Brisbane has also broken a record this month. On Tuesday, the mercury only rose to 16.9 and had a low of 9.2 in Brisbane, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

At 5.38am on Wednesday, the temperature dipped to 6.7 at Brisbane Airport.

"They haven't been having anything into the 20s for the last few days, which means it's very cold for them," Mr Matthews said.

"I think they were down to 8C this morning, I noticed so yeah, that's almost unheard of them, they must be reaching for a jumper up there or something."

Mr Browne said for the first seven days of June, Brisbane City and Brisbane City Regional Office mean-maximum temperatures were the lowest since 2000.

Last year Brisbane had a top of above 21 until the second week of winter.

It's meant to reach a maximum of 19 on Wednesday and is meant to stay around there for the rest of the week, but the minimum is expected to stay well below 10 for the rest of the week.

Snow expected way down south

Victoria can expect "cold, windy and showery" weather for the rest of this week as a high-pressure ridge with temperatures not expected to get over 15 and rain through until next Monday.

At Mount Hotham in the Victorian Alps, there was an avalanche at the start of the week due to the excessive snowfall. Snow showers should begin to ease on Friday, according to the Bureau.

A person is seen walking in the rain at Albert Park Lake in Melbourne, Thursday, September 30, 2021
Cold, wet and windy pretty much sums up Melbourne's forecast for the next week. Source: AAP Image

Weatherzone says it is possible that snow might fall in Hobart this weekend and it's already snowed at Mount Wellington.

"Forecast models suggest that the air arriving in Tasmania late on Saturday and lingering into Sunday could be cold enough for snow to fall to about 100 to 200 metres above sea level, possibly even lower," Weatherzone said.

"While there is still some uncertainty regarding the exact snow level this far out, all forecast models agree that it’s going to get very cold and that there will be widespread snow."

However, people shouldn't get too excited yet — there have been previous snow seasons where it's start off strong and ended up being a let down.

Mr Browne says the Bureau is expecting a warm and wet winter.

"So we need a couple of episodes of rain and a lot of that white stuff up on the Alps and Snowies will disappear," he warned.

Adelaide is also going to be wet and cold for the remainder of the week, with showers expected to ease early next week.

At the start of next week, the minimum temperature in South Australia's capital could reach just 6 degrees.

'Unheard of' deluge for Perth

Western Australia is currently copping a drenching, which Mr Matthews says is quite unusual for this time of year.

"They forecast their showers all week, which is you know, pretty much unheard of for Perth," he said.

However, temperature-wise, it's still going to be relatively mild, especially when compared to the forecast in the east.

Despite the rain and potential thunderstorms, people in Perth can expect temperatures in the low 20s for the rest of this week and early next week.

Members of the public are seen walking near Leighton Beach in Perth, Sunday, May 24, 2020.
Perth can expect rain for much of the coming week. Source: AAP

On Wednesday, Darwin was sunny and 34 and the temperature is going to remain in the low 30s for the rest of the week.

The heat will be mainly in the northern part of the Northern Territory, with temperatures more akin to Sydney's around Uluru.

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