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Rare blanketing for Launceston with more wild weather on the way

Thursday August 6, 2020 - 00:02 EST
ABC licensed image
The overnight snow dump gave Launceston residents the chance to indulge in a spot of skiing. - ABC licensed

Tasmania's wintry blast continued overnight on Tuesday, with Launceston in the state's north receiving its most significant snowfall since the early 1970s.



And the weather bureau says it is not over yet.

Launceston residents awoke to a few centimetres of snow settled on front lawns and suburban streets.



The Bureau of Meteorology's Luke Johnston said snow in the northern city was a rare event.

"Something that I found particularly interesting last night was looking at the webcam at Launceston Airport, where snow blanketed all the grassed areas for much of the night," he said.

On Wednesday morning some winter sports enthusiast braved the icy conditions to ski in the streets.



"Only in Tassie could someone be skiing in shorts!" Danny Kekkers McKenzie wrote on the ABC Hobart Facebook page.

"Shorts and snow, that's how they roll in Tassie," Li Ki Ta wrote.

"I've never seen it look like this," another follower commented.

"I think that this is the first time that I can remember snow in Launceston," Stuart Macdonald commented.

At 1:30pm on Wednesday, Tasmania Police said they had launched a rescue operation involving search and rescue officers in the Westpac Rescue Helicopter to "assist an injured man in the Maydena area" who they said had suffered "non-life-threatening injuries while snowboarding".



The super-chilled Antarctic air also dumped 30cm of snow at Great Lake in the Central Highlands and 20cm at Scottsdale in the north-east.

South-eastern towns were buffeted by icy southerly winds, with Hobart recording a gust of 94 kilometres per hour and Maria Island recording 100kph.

About 70 lightning strikes were detected in the state.

Rescues and strandings

The wild weather led to several rescues and almost 50 calls for help from the State Emergency Service.

Police launched a search for a 55-year-old man about 9:00pm on Tuesday after his boat struck rocks and sank near Southport in the state's far south.

The man was found at Cockle Creek cold and wet but uninjured.



Dozens of people had to be rescued from their cars as heavy snow clogged some of the state's major highways late on Tuesday.

About 40 cars were abandoned at Spring Hill on the Midland Highway and police used road graders to free them.

Tasmanian Labor adviser Sam Meyer said she was forced to stop outside of Oatlands as the highway was too unsafe to drive on.

"In the 40 minutes or so we were sitting there before we were allowed to move on the snow had probably built up about 10 centimetres, maybe a bit more," she said.

Another 10 cars got stuck at Bust-Me-Gall Hill on the Tasman Highway. The cars are expected to be retrieved on Wednesday.

Stranded travellers filled accommodation in small towns dotted along the closed roads.

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



Allan Burden runs accommodation and a restaurant at Orford on the east coast.

He told ABC Radio Hobart he was inundated with requests for rooms when the Tasman Highway was closed and had to turn people away.

"I can tell you it was snowing and it was snowing heavy," he said.

"Then it came down and blocked the road at Black Charlies [Opening] and no-one could get anywhere, even on the backroads."



The Imbibers wine bar in Oatlands is not usually open on a Tuesday but owner Brad Williams said he opened so stranded motorists had somewhere warm to go.

"It's actually been lovely, a lot of really nice people," Mr Williams said.

"Barriers between tables have broken down, people have made new friends and exchanged phone numbers."

He said accommodation in the town filled up quickly and some of the stranded people had been offered couches and spare rooms in the homes of locals.

Homes still without power



On Tuesday night about 14,000 homes lost electricity when lightning struck a power pole in Hobart.

At 1:00pm, there were about 2,000 customers without power around the state, "mostly in the north", TasNetworks said.

By 5:15pm, that figure had been reduced to 511 customers.

Wild weather is expected to continue throughout Wednesday, with the Bureau of Meteorology issuing warnings for severe winds.

Snow will continue to fall above 600 metres.

A dozen schools are closed and the Education Department is urging people to .


- ABC

© ABC 2020

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