ACT News

Canberra's severe weather warning cancelled but cold snap set to hit

Many Canberrans kept a close eye on the territory skyline on Friday afternoon amid wild speculation of snowflakes, snow flurries and the occasional confusion between sleet and snow.

Ngunnawal-resident Suzzi Hartery said there had been snow gusting outside her house for at least three minutes, something she'd never seen in Canberra before.

"There were big flakes hitting the windows," she said. "It was coming in gushes, so when the wind came it would be quite thick. It would bring a big gust of it through... It was so cool."

Other Canberrans have written in with offers to sign statutory declarations that snow fell across the city on Friday, although they noted they hadn't settled on the ground.

Weatherzone meteorologist Sam Brown said he had heard reports of snow falling around the Canberra region on Friday although he said any sighting would have been fleeting.

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"I've heard reports that there has been snow falling around the Canberra region, but most likely around the elevated areas and higher peaks around Canberra, not the city itself," he said. 

"It is only likely to be a centimetre or so in these areas so not too much snow."

Snow began falling on Corin Forest and on the Brindabellas in the early hours of Friday as temperatures plunged from 13 degrees at midnight to 5 degrees at 8am, according to the Bureau of Meteorology's Sean Carson. 

Friday's weather has been a stark contrast to Thursday which was the warmest July day in the since 2009 with temperatures hitting a top of 17 degrees, which was well above the July average of 11.5 degrees.

Mr Carson said Canberrans could expect to see showers throughout the afternoon amid cold temperatures, and that he was sure a number of people would report seeing snowflakes in different parts of Canberra. 

"It'll still be a very windy day, but the winds will only be about half the strength of yesterday's [Thursday]."

Mr Carson wasn't surprised at reports of snow flurries in many parts of Canberra around 8.30am and said those reports matched the weather profile at the time. 

While snow had not arrived in the city, Mr Carson said the Snowy Mountain resorts were enjoying a chilly -8 degrees on Friday morning although with the windchill and snow it felt more like -20 degrees. 

Mr Brown said Perisher had recorded 15cm of snow on Friday, with Thredbo enjoying 10cm and between five and 10cm falling on the Victorian alps.

Despite saying it was a slim chance, neither Mr Carson or Weatherzone meteorologists ruled out the possibility of snowflakes falling in the capital later on Friday afternoon.

“During the afternoon or early evening there is a low chance of snow falling in Canberra itself, but only a low chance,” said Weatherzone meteorologist Rob Sharpe.

“Anywhere with a little more elevation that the city [around 100-200m] will have a better chance of seeing snowflakes in the air."

While Canberrans' hopes of seeing snow in Civic appear dashed, it's a different story at Thredbo and Perisher. 

Thredbo spokesman Luke Kneller said staff on the resort were hoping for 25cm of snow by Friday night.

“Obviously there’s been some pretty windy and gnarly conditions up here for the last couple of days with strong winds, although the weekend should be pretty good," he said.

Corin Forest spokesman Andrew Snell said staff were expecting natural snowfall overnight and were working to keep the road open over the weekend.

“We’ve been enduring some pretty windy conditions over the past few days as the cold front moves in and we’re expecting snow to fall down to 1200m overnight and drop to 700m tomorrow [Friday], which is well below Corin [1200m]," he said.  

But it's going to be pretty chilly in Canberra too over the weekend. Mr Carson said temperatures should drop to minus 2 degrees on Saturday morning and may dip lower than minus 4 degrees on Sunday morning.

Mr Sharpe said Monday morning's temperature should dip to minus 4 degrees with Tuesday likely to be well below minus 2 degrees. 

“It's going to be a series of very cold mornings,” he said.

It's been a relatively dry July in Canberra, according to Mr Carson, who said the recorded 16mm of rainfall was well below the long-term monthly average of 41mm.

While daytime temperatures averaged 12 degrees during July - which is just half a degree warmer than the monthly average - it felt much colder due to strong winds particularly during the first three weeks of July, he said.

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