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BOM forecasts 'Antarctic winds' for NSW weekend as towns receive first snow in decades

By Kevin Nguyen, Michelle Brown, Mollie Gorman and Niki Burnside, Saturday August 10, 2019 - 18:46 EST
ABC licensed image
Tumut blanketed in snow, the first fall in two decades, according to locals. - ABC licensed

Residents just 90 minutes out of Sydney have woken up to fresh snowfall this morning, and the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) is forecasting a weekend of extreme winter conditions.

Erica Mann, who moved to Blackheath in the Blue Mountains from the sandy shores of Coogee in Sydney's eastern beaches two years ago, was ecstatic to find fresh white powder falling in her garden.

She said it was the most snow she had seen there yet.

"I opened the curtains and I could see a huge amount of snow on top of the water tank — it was so exciting," she said.

"It's amazing. I went up the street … and all the houses are completely covered in snow."

She said the snow was deep enough for her dog Missy to leave paw prints.

"The funny thing is she came back really briskly," she said.

On Friday, destructive winds battered south-east Australia, causing chaos at airports, tearing roofs off buildings and causing a tree to fall onto a car, .

A 68-year-old man from South Australia who was skiing with friends at Thredbo in NSW, died when he struck a low-hanging tree branch.

He was unable to be revived and died at the scene, police said.

The BOM has warned NSW to brace itself for "Antarctic winds", blowing from south of Tasmania, bringing damaging winds and sending temperatures plummeting.

"The winds we saw yesterday are extending further north today and will remain strong and gusty throughout the weekend," BOM spokesperson Craig Ryan said.

"There's a possibility of damaging winds up through the Hunter, through the Southern Tablelands, Illawarra and the higher parts of the south coast, west of Bega."

Meanwhile, on the state's mid-north coast on Saturday afternoon , prompting the NSW Rural Fire Service to issue an emergency alert.

In Sydney, the temperatures are expected to drop to as low as 7 degrees Celsius tonight but hover at about 17C during daylight hours.

In the Katoomba and Blue Mountains region, the temperature will be around 3C during the day and could drop to a minimum of -2C.

Residents in the Riverina also received a dumping of snow, with some towns recording their first falls in decades.

Cootamundra local Steve Theobald said the last time he remembered snow there was 1985, while residents in Tumut — only 305 metres above sea level — said it was their first fall since 2000.

Tumut resident Phyllis Dowling said when she got up early this morning everything was white.

"It was beautiful, it wasn't a real heavy cover, you could still see the little tufts of grass," she said.

"We've had heavier snowfalls here but it was very pretty just the same, and the sun came out for a little while and it was nice. But it's all gone now."

Other towns in southern NSW which have recorded snow include Adelong, Harden and Batlow.

Mr Ryan said the snowfall would continue into Sunday and would be finished by Monday.

The Great Western Highway between Wentworth Falls and Mount Victoria was closed earlier due to snow and ice and was reopened around 9:30am.

However, the Transport Management Centre advised motorists to still avoid the area in light of potential "further intermittent closures" on the highway.

In regional NSW, many roads in and around Oberon in the Central Tablelands were closed.

The NSW State Emergency Service (SES) said it had to rescue some motorists who became stranded on the Mitchell Highway between Orange and Bathurst.

A morning service train from Sydney Central to Mount Victoria, as well as several buses in Katoomba, were also cancelled due to "extreme weather conditions".

In the ACT, after snow fell during the , Mount Stromlo, Mount Ainslie and Black Mountain all received a dusting.

Thredbo, where wind speeds reached 118kph on Friday, received record snow for the season, with 15cm falling overnight, adding to the 100cm from the day before.

At the border at Falls Creek, the snow fell so heavily many cars were completely buried — save for their side mirrors — at the alpine resort.

Mr Ryan said there was a possibility wind speeds could exceed 90kph along the south coast, but conditions were expected to ease into the evening.

"The winds we saw yesterday will be gradually easing over today. We are not expecting [them] to be as strong," he said.

Despite the worst of the wintry conditions moving out of Victoria a cold front is expected to remain in the state with damaging wind gusts of up to 100kph forecast for the state's east.

On Friday, and also fanned two out-control bushfires on the state's mid-north coast before the blazes eased.


© ABC 2019

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