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Snow blankets central Victoria as Ballarat records coldest September day in more than 50 years

By Sarah Jane Bell, Friday September 25, 2020 - 19:13 EST

Victorians have been left shivering by an Antarctic blast that swept across the state, bringing significant snowfalls and the coldest September day in more than half a century to the regional city of Ballarat.

Flurries began falling at Lismore, Lake Bolac and Ararat on Friday morning and then became heavier over the Otway Ranges.

The snow fell for a number of hours and even settled on the ground in parts of the region, including in Ballarat, west of Melbourne.

Matt Huswaite was travelling through Rokewood with his two young boys when the snow started to settle.

"That was probably the first really heavy snow they've been able to get out and about in," he said.

"Our eldest was running around and holding out his tongue to get the snow to land on it and making as many snowballs as he could.

"It was an authentic snow feel."

At Tanybryn in the Otway Ranges Matthew Kolevski said the snow was more than 4 centimetres deep.

"It was unbelievable," he said.

"The temperature dropped in just a few minutes.

"It was sleet and then transformed into these massive flakes of snow."

'It was just magical to watch'

Mr Kolevski owned a farm in the region for more than 30 years and had never seen such large snowflakes.

"The [cattle] this morning were just persistently mooing," he said.

"In cold weather, like us when we get hungry, they get hungry."

Nicole Lewer had lived in Lismore for more than a decade and had also never seen so much snow.

"I thought someone was losing their blossoms in the wind, and on closer inspection it was snow," she said.

"As the morning progressed it got thicker and thicker.

"It was just beautiful. It was magical to watch."

The Bureau of Meteorology said Ballarat recorded its coldest September day since 1969.

Senior forecaster Miriam Bradbury said the city reached a maximum of 5.8 degrees Celsius just after 4:00pm, after dropping to freezing during the middle of the day.

"It dropped in temperature to about 0 degrees at 1.30pm," Ms Bradbury said.

"Because it was so cold through the middle part of the day, when they [the snowflakes] fell as snow, they just sat on the ground and didn't melt," she said.

Ms Bradbury said it felt much colder than thermometers indicated, with a "feels like" temperature of –4C.

How unusual is snow in springtime?

While it is unusual for snow to fall at this time of year, Ms Bradbury said it was not unheard of in a city like Ballarat.

"What makes this one a little bit special is the snow has managed to hang on in certain locations more than just melting on the ground," she said.

Ms Bradbury said a strong cold front had brought the cold airmass across Victoria overnight and a post frontal trough had increased the snow activity.

"We've had snow reported as low as around 200 metres at locations such as Lismore, Mortlake and Ararat," she said.

While there could be a few more flurries across the weekend, the cold air is set to move towards the east of Victoria.

The snow also led to heavy rain closer to the coast, with a temporary waterfall gushing off the cliff faces near the 12 Apostles on the Great Ocean Road.


© ABC 2020

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