Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia are being battered by gale to storm force winds today, triggering unseasonably high fire danger.
North to northwesterly winds ahead of an approaching front have gusted over 90km/h in all three states this morning, causing high to severe fire danger ratings.
Tasmania's Mount Wellington registered a gust of 124 km/h at 10:30am, while Scotts Peak Dam withstood a gust of 104km/h this morning.
Across Bass Strait, Melbourne had a turbulent peak hour as winds reached 81km/h in the city, the strongest since late February. Melbourne Airport registered its strongest winds since September, gusting to 94.5km/h this morning.
Cape Willoughby recorded South Australia's strongest gust of the morning, reaching 100km/h, their strongest since October.
The warm, dry and gusty winds have resulted in a severe fire danger rating for the Eyre Peninsula and West Coast in South Australia today, where total fire bans are in place. There is also a very high rating for the Yorke Peninsula and Mount Lofty Ranges. In Victoria, there is a very high rating in the Central and North Central districts. Parts of eastern Tasmania also have a high rating today.
Winds will ease this afternoon in South Australia before a moderate southwesterly change moves over southern districts.
Central parts of Victoria, including Melbourne, will see winds gradually ease during the afternoon before shifting southerly overnight. In the state's east, winds will peak during the afternoon, with gusts expected to reach 100-120km/h in elevated locations.
The strongest winds will affect Tasmania this afternoon just ahead of the front, possibly gusting to 130-140km/h in the west and 100km/h in the east.
Southwesterly winds behind the change will remain strong on Saturday morning in eastern Victoria and elevated parts of Tasmania, before easing during the afternoon. By Sunday a high pressure system will move over the region, bringing more settled conditions and clear skies.
© Weatherzone 2013
18:15 EDT An Australian Urban Search and Rescue taskforce has returned from Vanuatu after a 10-day operation to repair schools and hospitals in Port Vila after Cyclone Pam.