Damaging winds are set to lash Victoria over the next few days as the strongest cold front of the year crosses the state.
A tight pressure gradient ahead of the front is already bringing strong northwesterly winds across southern VIC today, with wind gusts in excess of 70km/h already being recorded in the Grampians.
Conditions are only set to worsen as the cold front nears the state, with a severe weather warning being issued for the North Central, North East, South West, Central, East Gippsland and West & South Gippsland for this evening and into tomorrow.
The ranges will see the strongest winds, with average speeds of 70km/h and gusts to 120km/h, while lower areas will see average speeds of around 50km/h and gusts to 100km/h.
Melbourne will not manage to escape the wild weather. Winds have gusted up to 50km/h so far today and will increase even further from this evening, peaking in the evening tomorrow with wind gusts possibly reaching 90-100km/h in some suburbs.
The cold front should cross the state's southwest tomorrow evening, before sweeping rapidly across the remainder of the state overnight. The front will be accompanied by winds just as strong, showers, a few thunderstorms as well as snow about the ranges, falling as low as 1000 metres by Friday morning.
Another front will cause winds to remain intense throughout Friday, particularly near the coast, with similar speeds seen to those on Thursday. However, further inland winds should not be as strong, including in Melbourne, although those close to the Bay may see similar speeds.
Wave heights in Bass Strait will average close to five metres on Friday, and peak at eight or nine metres. This will translate to six to eight feet for surfers on Saturday.
Conditions will begin to ease from Saturday morning as a high pressure ridge pushes in, although a few showers will remain about the southern coast through the weekend.
© Weatherzone 2013
00:28 EDT North Queensland is keeping a close watch on Ex-Tropical Cyclone Gillian and Cyclone Hadi.