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South-east Queensland temperatures plummet as cold snap pushes mercury below May average

By Lily Nothling and Lucy Robinson, Monday May 17, 2021 - 09:50 EST
ABC image
Southern Queensland's cold snap didn't deter keen bicycle riders from making it to the top of Brisbane's Mt Coot-tha. - ABC

Parts of Queensland have shivered through the coldest morning of the year so far.


Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) forecaster Shane Kennedy said the temperature had plummeted well below average across the state's southern and south-east regions.


"We're generally tracking between four, even up to 10 degrees below the May average," Mr Kennedy said.


"Across the south-east, it's the coldest morning of the year and the coldest since September or August in most places."


The chilliest temperatures have been recorded around the Darling Downs and the southern interior.


10C below the May average


It was minus 2.3 degrees Celsius in Stanthorpe, while Roma dipped to minus 2.2C.


"It's certainly very cold around Roma ? that's 10 degrees below that May average," Mr Kennedy said.


"Definitely expecting widespread frost across the majority of the southern interior and the south-east, potentially even into the western Lockyer Valley and around Kingaroy and the Carnarvon today."


Temperatures in Ipswich plummeted to 3C and Brisbane city hit 9C.


Mr Kennedy said the cold and dry air had pushed across most of the state.


"It's still fairly chilly in the north-west ? in the low teens around Mount Isa," he said.


"It got down to 9C around Mackay once again ? even Mareeba is a good several degrees below average."


'My hands nearly froze off'


Marion Carrick runs accommodation just outside Stanthorpe and found her pet sheep covered in frost this morning.


"They've got their own built-in woolly jumper so they're actually quite cosy underneath," she said.


"I ducked outside to take some photos of the frost because it's beautiful.


"It's been so long, I completely forgot to put gloves on, so my hands nearly froze off."


The chilly day signals the arrival of Stanthorpe's peak tourist season, where thousands of tourists flock to Granite Belt wineries and businesses to experience the cold.


Ms Carrick said they should bring a warm wardrobe to make the most of their stay.


"The Stanthorpe weather turns on a dime so be prepared," she said.


Mr Kennedy said conditions were expected to warm up from the middle of the week.


"It potentially could be as cold in the southern interior tomorrow, particularly around Roma, but along the east coast, we should start to see those onshore winds start to increase the moisture from late afternoon and overnight.


"That'll still keep things a little bit cooler around the coast, but a couple of degrees warmer than we saw this morning."


Fruit crop frozen


The frost has been devastating for Stanthorpe strawberry farmer Richard Ross, who estimated 50 per cent of his fruit crop was frozen this morning.


"It's a loss financially but it's to be expected at this time of year," he said.


"I woke up this morning to a blanket of white [frost].


"We're probably looking at stopping picking on the Granite Belt and we're going to move our entire operation up to the Sunshine Coast where we've got our winter farm."


He said the loss of fruit capped off a "relentless and challenging season" due to labour shortages caused by COVID-19 border restrictions.


"We're producing 30 to 40 per cent of what we normally do because I've got 30 to 40 per cent of the labour that I've [normally] got," Mr Ross said.


"Some days I get 10 or 12 people when I expect 50 or 60 people to come to work."







- ABC

© ABC 2021

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