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Winter-like weather sweeps across western Queensland

By Harriet Tatham and Melanie Groves, Wednesday December 6, 2017 - 14:56 EDT
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Western Queensland has broken several lowest-temperature records, after shivering through the last two nights. - ABC

While sweat and Queensland summer go hand-in-hard, people in the state's west are reaching for cardigans as overnight December temperatures break record lows.

From Birdsville to the Gulf of Carpentaria, temperatures dropped to 11 degrees Celsius below average — a phenomenon forecasters describe as "very unusual".

"I've been forecasting for a few decades now and I can't really remember anything quite this spectacular as far as dry and cool at this time of year," said Bureau of Meteorology forecaster David Bernard.

"It's the sort of thing we often see in winter which usually leads to really cold winter nights, but we don't often see it in December."

Mount Isa had its lowest overnight December temperate ever on record at 12 degrees Celsius — 11C degrees below average.

"Burketown yesterday had a minimum of 17.7C which was the lowest they'd seen up there since 1920, but that was eclipsed today with 16C, and that's the coldest December morning since 1907," Mr Bernard said.

"Richmond yesterday was 11.8C which was the lowest there in December since 1909."

"[Yesterday], Longreach had its coolest morning at 14.9C and we may not have seen that since 1999."

"Birdsville — it's been well below average both day and night, and down in Thargomindah, yesterday is was only 29C — again very unusual for December to see temperate below 30C unless it's raining," he said.

According to Mr Bernard, the significant drop in temperatures could be attributed to an air system moving in from the south.

"We've seen a very cold, dry southern airstream push right up through western Queensland."

"You rarely get the southerly push right into the Gulf waters, hence the very unusual temperatures."

"If you're used to mid-twenties and you get a temperate in the mid-teens, I think that's pretty spectacular."

Cool change is 'like Christmas'

Anne Clarke from Brinawa Station, south of Burketown, said the cooler temperatures had been a welcome change.

"Because we've had those series of long droughts, it's a change — just such a good change," Ms Clarke said.

"It's like Christmas on a stick."

"It just reminds you why you love the industry when you see the animals in such good order. Even the wallabies are fat!"

Further south, longtime Blackall resident Peter Skewes said he remembered the sheep dying from cold weather in the past.

"We've had cold spells at Christmas before. I remember when I was a kid, somebody lost sheep from cold weather," he said.

"They'd shorn their sheep, it then rained, and turned cold."

Despite the cool change, warmer temperatures are expected to resume by the end of the week.


© ABC 2017

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