Mark Russell – SMH October 16, 2010
IT WAS snow time in spring across Victoria yesterday. The cold snap dumped snow as low as 500 metres above sea level, with falls reported in areas including Mount Dandenong, around Ballarat and the ranges north-east of Melbourne.
Kinglake general store’s Linda Hamer said snow began to fall at about midnight on Friday, blanketing the town ravaged by last year’s Black Saturday bushfires and forcing road closures.
“It was amazing,” Ms Hamer said. “Australia’s a strange country sometimes.”
Kinglake Central farm manager Sue Rabjones said the snow was like a “white wonderland”. “It’s quite beautiful. It was about five to six inches deep in some places,” she said.
The cold front that brought snow to Victoria also swept rain and gale-force winds across eastern Australia, blacking out thousands of homes and businesses in Queensland.
Floodwaters cut the Hume Highway on Friday near Holbrook in southern New South Wales, and more than 200 people were forced to flee their homes near Tumbarumba on Friday night when a dam wall burst. Late yesterday, the NSW government declared a disaster zone in the region around Wagga Wagga, Albury and Tumut.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard waited more than four hours to greet the returning Australian Commonwealth Games team in Sydney yesterday, after high winds forced their flight’s diversion to Canberra.
Melbourne shivered through its coldest October morning in 15 years yesterday when temperatures dropped to 4.7 degrees at 12.44am. Mount Buller recorded the state’s lowest temperature with -6.9 degrees at 3.27am.
Catchments in greater Melbourne, including Werribee, Maribyrnong, Yarra and Dandenong, along with the Alpine region were all on flood alert as rain, hail and strong winds lashed the state early yesterday. Homes in Melbourne’s east were damaged by falling trees.
The reason for the wild weather, according to the Bureau of Meteorology, was a deep low pressure system to the east of Tasmania, which produced a cold, gusty and unstable south-westerly airstream over Victoria.
Senior forecaster Dean Stewart said 34 millimetres of rain fell across Melbourne in the 24 hours to 9am yesterday, filling dams to nearly 50 per cent.