Wind knocked down this tree New Acton. Photo: Jenna Ward
- Canberra winters 101: a beginner's guide
- Canberra winter survival guide part II: dressing for cold
- Part III: Getting around and dealing with fog and frost
Canberra has struggled through the coldest day of the year with damaging 83km/h wind gusts and blizzard conditions battering the territory as an icy wind chill plunged the apparent temperature below -5 degrees.
The capital reached its forecast maximum of 8 degrees at 6pm, though the apparent temperature remained a chilly 0.9 degrees.
The apparent temperature across the Territory was below freezing for much of the day, dropping to -5.5 degrees at 1.45pm - the same time the strongest wind gust of 83km/h hit the capital.
In the city's north, a tree fell on a home, crashing through the roof in the stormy conditions - one of 38 incidents reported to the ACT State Emergency Services since 4pm Monday. Most callouts were related to minor flood damage and fallen tree branches in the city's north.
While there has been significant snow in the mountains, it was unlikely the snow that fell on the Brindabellas during the morning would fall in the city.
Weatherzone meteorologist Brett Dutschke said Tuesday was the wildest day in the territory this year, and it could even turn violent.
"Tuesday will easily be the coldest day of the year so far, with a top of eight 8 degrees and strong winds probably averaging out around 40km/h in the city for most of the day, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were wind gusts of up to 70 to 80km/h," he said.
"Combining the winds with the rain, I wouldn’t be surprised if some trees come down in Canberra and power lines too, but it doesn’t look like it will be the windiest day Canberra has seen."
The Tuesday chill finally brought good news for house-bound skiers as blizzards thundered into the ACT and 80km/h winds and rain rattled Canberra
After a fairly snow-free May that left the fields bald, the powder has come just in time to save school holidays at the end of this week – and the ski resort's bottom line.
Both Thredbo and Perisher have received 50cm of fresh snow since Monday afternoon and expect 100cm of cover before a stronger cold front moves across the Alps on Saturday.
Mr Dutschke said there was almost no chance of snow falling in Canberra city on Tuesday despite snow falling on the Brindabellas and the higher suburbs of Canberra from 800m.
The severe weather warning issued by the Bureau of Meteorology for the southern tablelands, Snowy Mountains and ACT districts was updated about 4.30pm on Tuesday. An intense low pressure system west of Tasmania is to blame, according to the weather bureau.
The gale force winds were forecast to continue through Tuesday night, combining with the snowfall in the southern ranges to produce blizzard conditions.
Winds are expected to be 60 to 80km/h, with gusts up to 110km/h.
Canberra's rainfall was at 6.4mm by 6.30pm on Tuesday, while Tuggeranong received 8.8mm.
Canberra's dam levels clicked over the 75 per cent on Tuesday afternoon with the Cotter Dam reportedly at 51 per cent capacity.
Road and sporting grounds closed amid SES responses
An ACT Emergency Services Agency spokesman said the SES and firefighters responded to 38 calls for help since 4pm on Monday.
Most of the calls came from the north side of Canberra and were related to leaky roofs or fallen branches. The spokesman said one partially collapsed ceiling was reported in Macgregor.
A home in Flynn in Canberra's north was badly damaged when a tree fell through the roof on Tuesday.
ACT State Emergency Service volunteers remain on standby to assist with any storm or flood assistance.The SES has advised people to move their vehicles under cover or away from trees, secure loose items around their homes, and to keep clear of power lines.
ACT Policing have advised of several road closures due to snow around Canberra. These include Mt Franklin Road, Bendorra Dam Road, Brindabella Road at the end of asphalt and Corin Road.
Sunshine Road and Angle Crossing were also closed about 11.30am due to flooding.
All ACT Government owned sporting grounds have also been closed due to wet weather and the forecast showers.
"The focus is on protecting grounds from unnecessary wear and tear during training and in allowing weekend competition to go ahead wherever possible," a government spokesman said.
The Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve was closed by the ACT Government about 11am on Tuesday, although the Tidbinbilla Visitor Centre remained open.
Snow comes to the Alps and the Brindabellas
Susie Diver the Communications Manager at Thredbo Resort spokeswoman Susie Diver said the storm was "very good timing" and so far they had seen "blizzard-like conditions on the middle and upper slopes, and snow all the way to the village".
"I expect it to increase over next few hours, and significant snowfalls in next 48 hours with anything up to 70 centimetres," Ms Diver said.
The snow, cheered on by 90km/h to 110 km/h northwesterly winds, is expected to pick up an otherwise uninsp
By Tuesday morning close to 50cm of snow had fallen on Thredbo with 100cm of fresh powder predicted to cover the mountain later this week.
"The major snowfall has prompted the opening of Friday Flat, High Noon Super Trail, Merritts chair and Cruiser chair with the whole mountain set to open later in the week," a spokesman said.
Overnight snowfall at Corin Forest on the Tidbinbilla Range encouraged the resort managers to open their play fields on Tuesday morning, with plans to remain open for the duration of winter.
Corin Forest spokesman Andrew Snell said they have received between 15 and 20cm of snowfall overnight and it has been snowing all morning.
“We’re definitely looking to have the snow play area open over the weekend as we will probably get a bit more snow over the next few days,” he said.
Mr Snell encouraged people to drive with caution when coming to Corin Forest and to use 4x4 vehicles and chains whenever possible.
Perisher spokesman Richard Phillips said the cold front should "bring snowfall to the resort for the majority of the week - which is great news for us".
The Bureau of Meteorology said the apparent temperature was -6.8 degrees in Canberra shortly before 7am on Tuesday, rising to -4.2 degrees at around 8am.
Weatherzone meteorologist Ben Domensino said the coldest air mass passed over the territory around 10am on Tuesday morning and temperatures should begin to warm slightly during the afternoon.
Mr Domensino snow should lift to around 1200 meters overnight although another cold front will pass over the region on Saturday morning bringing even colder conditions and more snow.
“While I wouldn’t expect to see fresh snowfall on Thursday and Friday, the cold front on Saturday should bring an even better snow producing system over the ranges,” he said.
The BOM has said there is a 70 per cent chance of a warmer El Nino weather system developing in the ACT, inland NSW and Victoria by spring this year.