Snow and sweat as extreme weather divides Australia

The outlook from the web cam at NSW's Perisher resort on Friday.

The outlook from the web cam at NSW's Perisher resort on Friday.

Summer snow has fallen in the high country in southern Australia, while Queensland is sweltering through another hot and humid day.

Forecaster Weatherzone reported snow in the alps in NSW and Victoria, on Friday, as temperatures plummeted below zero due to a strong cold front.

It moved through the Victorian Alps late on Thursday and reached the Snowy Mountains of NSW just after midnight.

Meanwhile, much of Queensland endured temperatures soaring into the high 30s on Friday.

Large parts of the state have had days of a combination of high temperatures and high humidity, with conditions expected to persist into the weekend. Ipswich, west of Brisbane, was expecting highs of 37 and 36 degrees on Friday and Saturday respectively, with minimum temperatures in the low 20s.

The Australian Energy Market Operator was forecasting a new record peak on Friday afternoon of about 10,400 megawatts of electricity demand, Energy Minister Mick de Brenni said.

“That exceeds significantly the records that were set last year,” he said on Thursday.

“Queensland’s previous maximum demand was 10,085 megawatts, and we’re expecting over 200 megawatts extra demand tomorrow.”

Scenario planning was conducted to prepare for Friday’s conditions.

“I’m advised that we have enough supply to make sure the lights stay on,” de Brenni said.

“But the assurance that I want to provide to Queensland households and businesses is that our energy system is ready – now it will be tight, but the system will be manageable.”

Queenslanders were advised to stay inside when possible and prioritise hydration.

“If you have to go outside … try and avoid the hottest part of the day,” Queensland Ambulance clinical director Tony Hucker said.

“Avoid alcohol. That’s the worst thing you can do as far as trying to hydrate yourself.”

Perisher's summer outlook on Friday

Source: Facebook/Perisher

Shivering in the south-east

While Queenslanders sweated on Friday, millions in the southern states were shivering in winter-like temperatures.

Weatherzone said maximum and minimum temperatures would be much lower than their February norms in Australia’s south-east, due to the extreme cold front.

Melbourne and Canberra were both forecast to have top temperatures of just 17 on Friday. It was a bit warmer in Hobart and Adelaide, which were both shooting for 19 degrees

“The cold air won’t quite make it to Sydney, where a top of 31 degrees is expected for Friday, and the February chill won’t get anywhere near Brisbane, which is currently sweating through a low-intensity heatwave,” Weatherzone said.

The front was expected to bring snow to about 1500 metres, as well as temperatures well below zero for at least two nights.

Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Dean Narramore said the southern temperatures were more typical of late August and early September.

“This is pretty unusual, and you can actually track the movement of this system almost down to off the coast of Antarctica,” he said on Friday.

“It’s not record-breaking, but it’s something we only see every few Februarys.”

“Febu-whaaaat?” Perisher resort wrote in a Facebook post featuring snowy landscapes on Friday.


Weatherzone said summer snow was not unusual in Australia.

“There were several snowfalls in early December 2022, and while airmasses with Antarctic origins penetrate north less frequently in late summer, it still happens. The weather right now is evidence of that,” it said.

“Meanwhile despite the cold air, the bushfire danger remains serious in at least four states, due to dry vegetation and strong winds accompanying the passage of this front.”

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