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Snow falls in WA in April for first time in 49 years as Good Friday cold blast turns Bluff Knoll white

By Herlyn Kaur, Saturday April 20, 2019 - 11:47 EST
ABC licensed image
Dozens of hikers made the trek up Bluff Knoll to catch a glimpse of the snow. - ABC licensed

Western Australia's south-west received an unexpected surprise on Good Friday, with snowfall on Bluff Knoll in the Stirling Ranges.

A flurry was recorded on the peak, the highest point in the Stirling Ranges, about 100 kilometres north of Albany, after 2:00pm on Friday.

It is the earliest recorded snow event in a calendar year in the state's history.

The last recorded fall before this time was April 20, 1970, according to Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) records.

Dozens of hikers made the trek up the 1099-metre tall Bluff Knoll on Friday, which generally records light snow a couple of times each winter but rarely in April.

, bringing a cold pool of air generated from Antarctica behind it.

It led to more snow overnight, delighting those who climbed Bluff Knoll on Saturday morning.

The cold front also saw hail dumped on Albany in the Great Southern.

The regional city was covered in white as a hail storm swept through about 1:00pm on Friday.

Maximum temperatures for the day were left hovering at 6C to 8C in many Great Southern towns.

BOM forecaster Matt Boterhoven said snow was an extremely rare occurrence in April.

"It's exceptional. We've only recorded once, in the last 100 years, snow as early as this on top of the Stirling Ranges," he said.

"It's related to a very strong cold air mass moving over the south-west of the state, so when conditions get below freezing and there's precipitation, snow can form on top of Stirling Ranges."

Mr Boterhoven predicted further snow flurries were possible into Saturday morning — something which came to pass overnight.

"It's going to be a cold night down in the south-west tonight, and even more so on Sunday morning where we could see some frost over large parts of the Wheatbelt when temperatures go below 3C," he said.

The snow follows a .

Earlier this week, meteorologists said the state's south-west corner would experience blustery winds, rain and hail as holidaymakers prepared to travel for the long weekend.

"It's the first major front of the cool season and there's even the possibility of some snow up on the higher ground in the Stirling Ranges," BOM spokesman Neil Bennett said.

"We're really keen for people to be aware that this weather is coming, because during Easter weekend a lot of people are out and about especially in the campsites, we know that they're very full.

"Cold fronts do happen in April but this is a very active one and with the wet and windy conditions — if people aren't prepared properly they may find that it's a bit unpleasant out there."


© ABC 2019

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