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Canberra's warm winter rises to an even warmer end

Adam Johnston and Miranda Scarr walk through the blossoms in Yarralumla with their dog Carver.

Adam Johnston and Miranda Scarr walk through the blossoms in Yarralumla with their dog Carver. Photo: Jay Cronan

Canberra’s first 20-degree days since May could cap off what may end up being one of the capital’s warmest winters on record, if forecasts for the rest of the week prove accurate.

The mean temperature for Canberra’s winter is already 1.3 degrees warmer than the historical average, and a run of warmth in the dying days of the season could see that creep slightly higher still.

According to Rob Sharpe, a meteorologist from Fairfax-owned Weatherzone, apart from the chance of a handful of showers on Wednesday morning and overnight on Thursday, Canberra’s weather will be a vast improvement on last week, when the temperature didn’t get above 13 degrees from Monday to Friday.

Cold wet conditions at Thredbo on Saturday, melting all the snow that had fallen the previous week.

Cold wet conditions at Thredbo on Saturday, melting all the snow that had fallen the previous week. Photo: Jay Cronan

“Temperatures are going to be reaching about 20 degrees for most days of this coming week,” he said.

“We’ve really got a warm air mass that over the last week moved to the northern parts of the country but this week it’s come back south now the polar winds have stopped blasting south eastern Australia.”

While these sorts of temperature fluctuations are the norm for this time of year, Mr Sharpe said it comes at the end of what has already been a particularly warm winter.

“I would definitely say it would be one of Canberra’s warmest winters on record…with far fewer cold days and cold nights than Canberra would typically see,” he said.

“We do expect to have periods of warmth at this time of year, as well as periods of cold air coming in. But it seems that for Canberra and much of NSW as well, we’re more likely to see more of the spells of warmth than we are the cold spells, particularly over the next couple of weeks.”

Mr Sharpe said the contrast was even more stark when you compared the number of mornings below zero degrees this winter – 26 in total – against the historical average of 43 mornings, or even the cold of last winter, when Canberrans woke up to freezing temperatures on 48 mornings.

And after three consecutive weeks of heavy snow falls which tripled the snow depth across the Australians Alps, Mr Sharpe said the ski resorts will also start seeing some more spring-like weather creep in.

“Now we’re seeing the warm air coming in, little bits of rain here and there as well. It’s going to mean that the ski fields are going to become a little bit more slushy. Thankfully there’s still going to be a really good base, so people will still be able to ski for a while, but it won’t be the winter wonderland,” he said.

“It seems that winter has had its run and spring is arriving with good pace, and it doesn’t look like we’ll see much in the way of strong cold fronts in the next little while.”

He said there will still be nights cold enough for snowmaking, but warned warmer days could see slushy conditions develop by the afternoon.

But the warmer-than-average winter won’t have any real impact on the opening of Floriade in a bit over two weeks, according to head gardener Andrew Forster.

“It’s all fine. The way Floriade is designed, it means that there will be flowers all the way through Floriade,” he said.

Mr Forster said there had been enough cool days to maintain normal flower growth, but said the warmer weather had been good for the annuals, and would be great for workers out over the next two weeks finishing off the garden beds in preparation for the September 14 opening.

 

2 comments

  • Dress it up in all smiles and happiness, nice beautiful flowers for spring as we "celebrate" another "warm" winter, another year of missed snowfall opportunities and frost deficiencies.

    What is going on with this "warm" air mass (the heat dome responsible for the shocking, record-breaking temperatures of January this year)? Why is it hanging around so long? Like a bad smell, this heat mass has been hanging around for a year now, with the "cold fronts" failing to dislodge it?

    Is this why we have to "cut our carbon emissions"? And didn't they say recently that even if we did, the "carbon" would still be in the atmosphere for another 30 years before the weather started cooling down again?

    Commenter
    Climate change, climate change, climate change......???
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    August 28, 2013, 12:20PM
    • Absolutely agree, I know there will be those who still stick their heads in the sand ( quoting things like , "but the climate is warming" ), but seriously just talk to some people that used to ski many years ago and they will tell you from their own observations that there just aren't the winters that we had say in the 50s,60s and 70s. My own observations based on growing up in Canberra in the 80s also tell me that winter definitely had that bit more bite and cold fronts were the norm rather than the exception. It is really quite depressing that this just isn't front page news and a major election issue. Of course most still seem to forget that our economy, though important is only a subset of the real environment rather than the other way around. I've definitely hung up my skis for this year, slush is no fun to ski in August.

      Commenter
      benjamin.garden1
      Location
      Campbell
      Date and time
      August 28, 2013, 2:22PM
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