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Victoria cold weather blankets towns in snow, forces closures on 'treacherous' roads

Sunday August 11, 2019 - 14:59 EST
ABC licensed image
Ballarat was blanketed in snow on Sunday morning. - ABC licensed

Heavy snow, freezing temperatures and "treacherous driving conditions" have forced road closures across Victoria, as the state shivers through its third day of an extreme cold snap that has blanketed towns in snow.

A cold front has been covering Australia's south-east for days, bringing blizzards, rain and strong winds to Victoria.

Melbourne woman Angie Suryadi was killed after a in the Yarra Ranges on Friday morning.

The cold front moved north-east to NSW and the ACT at the weekend, and winds that .

A 68-year-old man from South Australia who was skiing with friends at Thredbo in NSW, died when he struck a low-hanging tree branch on Saturday.

The gale-force winds that had battered Victoria on Friday and Saturday had eased on Sunday, but VicRoads said the lack of wind was heaping snow on alpine trees, causing them to fall and block roads.

VicRoads said the weather had resulted in "treacherous driving conditions in our alpine areas".

"It's really heavy snowfalls but of course with no wind, the snow's sitting on the trees and because of that the trees are falling over so there's a huge job ahead of us but lots of roads closed," Chris Miller from the Department of Transport said.

The Mount Baw Baw resort was completely cut off as crews worked to clear the snow and trees from the roads.

Entry to the Mount Hotham resort was partially blocked off as the Great Alpine Road was closed between Harrietville and Mount Hotham, but the ski fields could still be accessed by diverting through the town of Omeo.

Victoria's snow fields were forecast to remain below 0 degrees Celsius through Sunday, with tops of -1C forecast for Mount Baw Baw, -2C for Falls Creek, -1C for Mount Buller and -3C at Mount Hotham.

'Amazing' snowfall 50kms from CBD

The State Emergency Service said it had responded to 145 calls for help across the state, with more than half of those for fallen trees.

The snow reached towns across Victoria, falling as low as 400 metres above sea level.

Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) senior meteorologist Dean Stewart said it had been "about 10 or 11 years since we've had such a widespread event of low-level snow across Victoria".

VicRoads said black ice had been detected on the Calder Freeway, a major link between Melbourne and Bendigo, and the Macedon-Woodend road near Kyneton, about 85 kilometres north-north-west of Melbourne.

Residents in the Dandenong Ranges, less than 50 kilometres east of Melbourne's CBD, woke up to snow on Sunday morning for the second day in a row.

"We just got told by a local, an elderly man, he's never actually seen snow two days in a row on the mountain the whole time he's lived up here, so that was quite amazing," Mount Dandenong Bakery worker Bridget McKay said.

The central Victorian hub of Ballarat received a dusting of snow for the second day in a row and the despite the mercury forecast to hit 8C, the temperature felt like -2 at 10:30am.

Kyneton resident Chelsea Skipper, 23, said she had lived in the town, about an hour from Melbourne, all her life but had never seen anything like Sunday's snow.

"This morning it was like a blizzard … paddocks covered in snow," she said.

Melbourne CBD was forecast to have up to 10 millimetres of rain, with a top of 12C predicted in the city.

In Gippsland, in the state's east, heavy rain caused flooding around the Latrobe River catchment and a moderate flood warning was issued for Traralgon, Morwell, Yallourn North, Tyers and Glen Garry West and surrounding areas.

The BOM recorded about 80mm of rainfall in the catchment since 9:00am Friday, with up to 5mm more forecast for the rest of Sunday.

Friends remember woman killed in Friday's winds

Meanwhile, tributes flowed for Angie Suryadi, with members of her church describing her as "a great woman".

Ms Suryadi died at the scene after the tree crushed the family car on Friday.

Her young son remained in a critical but stable condition at the Royal Children's Hospital on Sunday morning, while her husband and their other son were in a stable condition.

"We lost a great friend, Angie was a great woman and she will be truly missed and will always be remembered," the Australia for Christ Church Indonesia said on Facebook.

"She was loved by all of us and she will be cherished in our memories forever."


© ABC 2019

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