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A trough & front crossing the southeast are bringing a few showers to eastern VIC & southeastern NSW. A trough over QLD is drawing tropical moisture through the NT and into QLD, triggering showers & the odd storm. Onshore winds are bringing light showers to SA's south coast.

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Mostly CloudySydney NSW

12.0°C

9°C
19°C

CloudyMelbourne VIC

7.3°C

5°C
13°C

Possible ShowerBrisbane QLD

16.6°C

12°C
21°C

SunnyPerth WA

11.0°C

6°C
19°C

Mostly SunnyAdelaide SA

7.2°C

9°C
15°C

Mostly CloudyCanberra ACT

5.1°C

1°C
13°C

CloudyHobart TAS

6.4°C

6°C
11°C

ShowersDarwin NT

19.9°C

19°C
25°C

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Today, 6:37AM UTC

Should I go to the snow this weekend?

As we enter July, there are two ways of looking at the current season to date. The first way is to say hey, there's up to a metre of snow on the ground – with an official Snowy Hydro reading of 101.2 cm at Spencers Creek in NSW as of Wednesday. That's a good indication of the depth up high at Perisher, Thredbo and Charlotte Pass. Meanwhile, snow depths at the higher Victorian resorts are in the 50-80 cm range, which is also not bad for the first week of July. The other approach is the glass half empty view where you say, hmmm, Spencers Creek had 118.3 cm just two weeks ago, so the depth has declined a little. Also it's going to be super busy because it's now school holidays for private and public schools in both NSW and Victoria. Image: A recent scene captured at Smiggin Holes, part of Perisher resort. Source: Author's pic. Here at Weatherzone, we're upbeat kind of people, so we'll take the first view and say yep, go to the snow if you can. Don't expect pristine slopes to yourselves with no obstacles, but if you get up early and avoid the worst of the crowds, you'll get a decent slide in. You may even get a dusting of fresh snow, which would freshen up the snow surface nicely after around 2-5 cm fell in the higher resorts on Wednesday night, as we predicted. There's a slightly unusual weather pattern around on Friday which could deliver a few centimetres here and there to quite low levels in a southeasterly air flow. It's not your classic cold front – more an upper cold pool which will interact with a trough over the Alps. Meanwhile here's our quick rundown of current conditions at the resorts: Image: The steep Kamikaze run on Mt Blue Cow at Perisher is not open yet, but most surrounding runs are. Soufce: Author's pic. NSW Perisher is running 37 of its 48 lifts as we write this story, but if the weekend turns out to be super busy, expect as many as 46 lifts – with only the North Perisher and Olympic T-Bars yet to crank up for season 2022. Those are always the last two lifts to open. More here. Thredbo has 11 of its 14 lifts currently turning, with the big news being that Sponars T-Bar opened on Thursday. It requires the most snow of any Thredbo lift, so it's a sign that the cover is in overall decent shape, especially up high. More here. Charlotte Pass has all five lifts running, and as we mentioned last week, was the first Aussie resort to achieve that. More here. Lastly, a reminder that Selwyn Snow Resort will not open this season. It was devastated by fires in the Black Summer of 2019/20, and while resort management was hopeful of opening this season (and had even pre-sold tickets), facilities were not completed in time. VICTORIA Mt Hotham is looking the pick of the Victorian ski hills. It scored 6 cm of snow on Wednesday night, the most of any Australian resort. Hotham has a base of 76 cm and has all but one of its lifts running. The Orchard area opened this week, which adds a stack of terrain options and also relieves pressure on the busy Heavenly Valley chairlift. More here. Gotcha, Keogh’s and Orchard lifts are now spinning! 🎉🥳 pic.twitter.com/GRZeKEcnIW — Hotham (@_hotham) June 29, 2022 Mt Baw Baw has the advantage of being the closest resort to Melbourne, but the disadvantage of being Australia's lowest snow resort overall. It has just two of its lifts running and is desperate for a fresh top-up of natural snow. More here. Mt Buller has taken a bit of a hit from some drizzly rain midweek, but still has a base of 57 cm, which is enough to enable 17 of its 21 lifts to be spinning. More here.  Falls Creek has a base of 75 cm, and like last week, it has all but one of its lifts running. More here. A #magical day ahead at #FallsCreek. 🙌 Enjoy it! pic.twitter.com/vbquDF7LDl — Falls Creek Official (@fallsaustralia) June 27, 2022 TASMANIA Skiing at Mt Mawson and Ben Lomond is officially on hold, with insufficient snow at present. As for the weather in NSW and Victoria this weekend, it should be a reasonably comfortable couple of days out on the slopes. Winds will be moderate to fresh out of the southeast, which is a slightly unusual direction, and it'll mean the wind is not blowing directly in your face on most chairlifts. Not a whole lot of fresh snow is on the cards – give or take the chance of light falls on Friday – though there are early indications of a moderate fall towards the end of next week. As always, we invite you to check the Weatherzone snow page for the latest info and forecasts.

Today, 5:28AM UTC

Flood watch issued in eastern NSW

Sydney and surrounding areas of eastern NSW have been placed on flood watch today, with a prolonged period of heavy rain about to inundate a broad area of eastern Australia. Moisture-laden air feeding into a deepening low pressure trough will produce rain over eastern areas of QLD and NSW every day from this Friday until the middle of next week. Within this broad low pressure trough, several small-scale low pressure systems could develop and produce concentrated areas of heavy rain and powerful winds. The maps below shows how much rain one computer model is predicting between now and Wednesday next week. At this stage the heaviest rain in this period is expected to occur between Saturday and Tuesday. Image: Forecast accumulated rain during the next 7 days for NSW and QLD, according to the ECMWF-HRES model. Accumulated totals in excess of 100mm are likely in some eastern districts of NSW and QLD from this weekend into early next week. Isolated multi-day totals of 200 to 300mm are possible, particularly near and to the south of any low pressure systems that develop close to the coast. This is going to be a dynamic weather event and forecast rainfall totals are likely to shift around quite a lot in the coming days. Be sure to check the latest forecasts and warnings for the most up-to-date information. A flood watch was issued on Thursday afternoon for catchments in central eastern NSW, between the Illawarra and Lower Mid North Coast. This includes Sydney, where Warragamba Dam is currently 97 percent full and minor to moderate flooding is possible this weekend, and major flooding is a risk early next week. In addition to the rain, strong winds and dangerous surf may also develop in parts of eastern NSW between Sunday and the middle of next week. This may include periods of damaging winds and coastal erosion if low pressure systems develop near the coast. Image: Forecast wind gust speed and direction at 10pm AEST on Monday, July 4, according to the ECMWF-HRES model.

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Today, 12:39AM UTC

Sydney's driest June since 1986 amid record wet start to year

Sydney’s driest June in 36 years wasn’t enough to stop the city having its wettest first half of a year on record. While the first five months of 2022 all produced well above-average rain in Sydney, June was much drier than usual. Image: Sydney’s observed rainfall during the first 6 months of 2022. The city’s main rain gauge at Observatory Hill registered 16.8 mm of rain during June. However, the gauge had a few technical issues during the month and failed to record daily rainfall totals on three occasions. Based on data from surrounding weather stations, it is likely that around 0.4 mm of rain fell at Observatory on these missing days, which would bring Sydney’s monthly total up to 17.2 mm. Sydney’s 17.2 mm of rain this month makes it Sydney’s driest June since 1986, sitting well below the long-term monthly average of 133 mm. This was also Sydney’s 11th driest June in 164 years of records. Despite such a dry June, Sydney is still having its wettest year-to-date on record thanks to an exceptionally wet start to 2022. Based on 17.2 mm of rain in June, Sydney received 1547.8 mm during the first six months of 2022. This is the city’s wettest first half of a year in records dating back to 1859, only just ahead of 1545.2 mm from the first six months of 1890. So why did the rain suddenly switch off in Sydney during June? Large areas of eastern NSW were plagued by persistent and heavy rainfall earlier this year as relentless onshore winds drove moisture-laden air from the Tasman Sea onto the state’s coast and ranges. By contrast, June saw a return of much drier westerly winds as cold fronts became more active over southeastern Australia. This change in the prevailing wind direction starved the atmosphere of moisture over eastern NSW, significantly reducing the amount of rain. This abrupt shift in weather patterns was underpinned by a change in the state of the Southern Annular Mode (SAM). The SAM is an index that measures the north-south displacement of the westerly winds belt that flows between Australia and Antarctica throughout the year. When the SAM is positive, this westerly wind belt shifts further south than usual for that time of year. When the SAM is negative, these westerlies are located further north than usual. Positive phases of the SAM typically enhance the flow of easterly winds over eastern Australia, which often boost rainfall in eastern NSW. By contrast, negative SAM phases promote drier westerly winds over eastern NSW. The SAM was in a predominantly positive phase for the first five months of 2022, which helped boost rainfall over eastern NSW, In June, the SAM switched to a strongly negative phase at the start of the month, which saw drier weather pattern return to Sydney. The graph below shows the state of the SAM over the last four months. Image: Observed SAM (also called the AAO) index values during the last 4 months (black line). Source: NOAA/CPC Sydney’s 1,547.8 mm of rain during the last six months if well above the city’s long-term average annual of 1213.4 mm. Sydney’s wettest year on record was 2194mm in 1950.

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21 Jun 2022, 3:53AM UTC

La Nina floods make NSW ports too fresh for ships

La Niña has had a surprising impact on shipping operations in NSW this year, with increased freshwater outflows from flooded rivers affecting the behavior of ships entering some ports. Ships entering tidal ports in NSW are affected by local weather conditions, tides and waves, which can all affect a vessel’s ability to enter and operate safely within a port. One of the important things to consider when allowing larger vessels to enter NSW ports is the tide, which needs to be high enough to allow deep drafted vessels to enter, navigate and exit a port safely. This year, the window of time where water levels are high enough for ships to enter some NSW ports has been reduced by enhanced freshwater inflows from heavy rain and flooding. Image: Rainfall between January and May 2022 was in the top 10 percent of historical records for most of eastern NSW, with some areas receiving their highest rainfall on record for this period. Source: Bureau of Meteorology Freshwater is less dense than salt water, which allows ships to sit lower in the water. The prolific flooding seen in parts of eastern NSW earlier this year caused huge injections of freshwater into the coastal zone, which decreased salinity and affected shipping operations. According to Philip Perkins, Meteorologist and Sales Executive of Ports, Offshore and Safety at Weatherzone, "port users and operators at river-based terminals have been impacted by summer and autumn rainfall. “During high river flows water salinity is reduced. This means vessels can behave differently, resulting in elevated risk to vessels even at berth. Even when secured properly, berthed vessels can be impacted by passing traffic in the terminal.’’ In addition to the safety of ships, decreased salinity at river-based terminals can also reduce the window of time where larger vessels can enter these ports. In some cases, this may force ships to wait for the next high tide before entering or departing the port. Fortunately, river levels and discharge rates have now returned to more normal levels in eastern NSW. However, the ongoing influence of La Niña and a developing negative Indian Ocean Dipole increases the risk of more flooding in the months ahead. With the ground still holding a lot of water, any periods of heavy rain this winter and spring are likely to cause flooding, which may have immediate impacts on shipping operations.

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17 Jun 2022, 1:24AM UTC

Does winter or summer cause more energy demand?

Australia’s National Electricity Market (NEM) is in the throes of an energy crisis that has partially being driven by an abnormally cold start to winter. But how does energy demand change throughout the year and would this crisis have been worse if it happened in summer? Summer and winter are both challenging seasons for everyone involved in the electrical market. Heatwaves and cool spells both place a significant strain on the electricity system in Australia as they increase the amount of heating or cooling occurring in homes and businesses. Extremely hot or cool temperatures can also impair key electrical infrastructure, which can also play a part in causing electricity outages in both summer and winter. Furthermore, extreme weather events such as bushfires, flooding, lightning, tornadoes and severe storms can all affect electricity networks. Each season has their own unique mix of challenges for Australia’s electricity markets. Summer Heatwaves and extreme high temperatures cause high energy demand through increased air conditioner use during summer. Heatwaves have the greatest impact on the network when they impact multiple states at the same time. Some other common summer impacts include: High temperatures impair the operation of key electrical infrastructure. This can be compounded by high energy demand that often occurs at the same time. Generators, power lines, transformers and other electrical equipment can underperform or fail when temperatures get too hot. Renewable energy infrastructure is also impacted by the heat with solar panels and wind turbines underperforming. During summer, raging bushfires often threaten the electricity network and transmission lines. The Black Summer bushfires during 2019 and 2020 damaged power lines and caused widespread power outages that impacted tens of thousands of households in Australia’s southeast. Dust storms in summer can cause sparking between lines, sometimes initiating more fires and line failures. Winter Cool temperatures also increase energy demand with increased heater use in homes and businesses. Some of the typical winter impacts on the electricity market include: Strong winter winds in southern Australia can damage transmission lines causing black outs or outages. Key electrical infrastructure also underperforms when temperatures get too cold. Is energy demand higher in summer or winter? According to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), maximum operational demand occurs in summer, driven by cooling loads across most of Australia’s states and territories. However, Tasmania’s peak demand occurs in winter, driven by heavy heater use amid bitterly cold outdoor temperatures. The chart below shows that demand in Victoria has been higher in January (summer) than July (winter) during each of the past ten years. Chart: Highest energy demand (MW) in Victoria during the past 10 years in January and July. Source: AEMO’s Aggregated Price and Demand Data - Historical In AEMO’s 2019 summer readiness report, they stated that weather forecasts are “now the most important input into forecasting of demand and supply of generation for the National Energy Market (NEM)”. Given the intrinsic relationship between temperature and electricity demand, Australia’s warming climate is likely to have an impact on demand and infrastructure in the future.

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