Weather News

Cold front brings snow to Tasmania as weather alert issued for damaging winds

Wednesday August 5, 2020 - 00:00 EST
ABC licensed image
Cars queue on a snow-bound road near kunanyi/Mount Wellington. - ABC licensed

Snow and wild weather across Tasmania has caused power cuts and road closures, stranding dozens of vehicles — and the Bureau of Meteorology predicting damaging winds for much of the south and east.



After a day of helping people affected by snow, late on Tuesday night police were responding to a vessel-in-distress call at Southport.

A man on a boat had reported striking rocks, and local vessels were preparing to assist in a search.

The boat was not sinking and no injuries had been reported, police said.

Earlier, Tasmanians took to social media to share images and video of snow in areas where it had not been seen since 2015.

But while it was fun for some, the deteriorating conditions caused havoc for others.

Up to 40 vehicles were stuck in snow at Spring Hill, on the Midland Highway, on Tuesday afternoon.



Tasmania Police checked on occupants and said "all were safe and warm, with their engines running".

Twenty vehicles were freed with the use of a grader and police expected to free the rest by 11:00pm (AEST).

The occupants of a further 10 vehicles stranded at Buckland on the Tasman Highway were driven out by police in four-wheel drives.

There have been reports of local farmers using tractors to rescue stranded motorists at both locations.

The cars will be collected when conditions ease.

In a statement, Inspector Brett Berry said no injuries had been reported.

"It is extremely lucky that there were no serious injury crashes in the conditions on the roads this afternoon and evening," he said.



The state's main north-south arterial road, the Midland Highway between Launceston and Hobart, was closed to traffic at Melton Mowbray to Tunbridge.

One motorist, Matt, has told ABC Radio Hobart he became stranded at the beginning of Spring Hill on the Midland Highway.

"[There are] three or four trucks that just can't go any further, the traffic's banked up here," he said.



"I've actually got a four-wheel drive which I'm pretty confident using. I'm trying to tow a couple of two-wheel drive vehicles to get them going but we just can't get going."

Tasmania's Opposition Leader Rebecca White was one of the people stuck on the Midland Highway.

She warned motorists in the same predicament not to attempt the Mudwalls Road.

"Please don't. We attempted to get home that way and had to turn around," she said mid-afternoon.

"That road is still open but it was impassable because of the number of cars that have actually slid off the road and have blocked any traffic going through. That's quite dangerous."

The Huon Highway heading south was also closed at the Sandfly turn off due to snow and ice this afternoon.

Snow flurries have also been reported on coastal communities at Primrose Sands south-east of Hobart and at Orford on the east coast.

Inspector Berry urged people to avoid unnecessary travel and to be aware of numerous road closures across the south of the state.

The public was urged to stay up to date with the and

Thousands without power, severe weather alert



More than 13,000 electricity customers were still without power at 9:30pm as wild weather lashed the state.

TasNetworks reported outages in some Hobart suburbs, the Southern Midlands and parts of the east coast.

SES southern regional manager Mark Nelson warned there could be more power outages and damaging winds.

He said crews were on standby for call-outs.

"The winds are predicted to pick up a bit later in the evening but it's one of these systems that's quite dynamic and it's really going to be a watch and see how it pans out [situation]," he said.

Temperatures between 0 and 9 degrees Celsius were forecast for most of Tasmania. Snow is predicted to fall to 300 metres.



The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a severe weather warning for damaging winds for the south-east, east coast and parts of the north-east and midlands forecast districts.

"Damaging southerly winds averaging 60 to 70 kph with peak gusts of 90 to 100kph are expected to develop this evening about parts of the east and south-east of Tasmania," the warning states.

"Gusts of around 110kph are possible about the eastern coastal strip of Tasmania [including Swansea and Bicheno] in the early hours of Wednesday.

"Damaging winds are expected to contract to the east coast of the state by around sunrise on Wednesday morning, then clear the east coast around midday."



Snowfalls sparks 'big, cheesy grin'

The temperature on kunanyi/Mount Wellington dropped to -7C on Monday night.



Snowboarder Tim Harmsen rose before 6:00am on Tuesday to take advantage of the cold snap.

Mr Harmsen rode his bike as far up the mountain as he could, then walked the rest of the way when the snow got too deep and fluffy.

He said the snow on the summit was "some of the deepest and softest powder I've ever seen in Australia".

"[I] buckled my bindings up and started cruising down the road on my snowboard, laughing like a little kid," he said.

"I've been wanting to do this for years now.

"The views over Hobart were some of the best I've seen.

"The ride back to the car was pretty fresh but [I] still had a big cheesy grin plastered on my face the whole way."

Snowfalls in west, north

Snow also fell to around 150m on the west coast.



Residents in the state's north also reported a flurry of early-morning snow and then bigger falls in the evening.

Some at Devon Hills in the Northern Midlands said it was only the second time in 35 years they had seen snow fall.



Much of the state was also experiencing its coldest day of the year, with Liawenee in Tasmania's centre, hitting -10.2C.

Police warned bushwalkers the extreme weather conditions could mean the rescue helicopter may not be able to reach people in trouble.

"If there's low cloud conditions it certainly can make helicopter operations either very dangerous or sometimes not able to be conducted," Inspector Brian Edmonds said.

"So that will increase the danger of anyone bushwalking in elevated areas."

The icy weather is one of the effects of two . Heavy snow was also expected in Victoria and in regions of NSW and the ACT.


- ABC

© ABC 2020

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