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Rains to give way to snow as bureau show off new radar

June will likely hold more rain for Canberra than all of autumn, as steady rain over the capital on Wednesday morning looks to tend to snow in the mountains later in the week.

It comes as the Bureau of Meteorology has made its new Canberra weather radar available to the public, giving local weather boffins a reason to rejoice.

It’s a little late, but the ski slopes could be returned to their former glory by a gradual build-up of snow over the next week, after good early coverage was washed away just before the start of the season.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology’s Sean Carson, the resorts could look to reclaim the 20 centimetres of snow above 1600 metres that was lost to rain and warm weather.

A mass of moist air from the Indian Ocean will hit the region on Wednesday, bringing rain to Canberra and some rain to the mountains, before a low pressure system settles in off NSW’s far south coast, dragging cold air up from the south.

Mr Carson said the northern moisture and southern cold should mean a steady build-up of snow on the upper half of the mountains on Thursday and Friday, with more snow possible on Sunday and Monday.


“It’s going to rain up there today and then it will tend to snow tomorrow morning,” he said. “It’s pretty stubborn, it looks like this low could hang around until early next week.”

Below 1600 metres the resorts will probably see some rain, and temperatures slightly too warm for snowmaking, but Mr Carson said that could change mid-next week to allow resorts to cover lower elevations with manmade snow.

Canberra is expected to see steady rainfall developing over the course of the morning, before it eases to light showers over the next two days.

Combined with a very wet weekend at the start of June, Canberra looks set to exceed June’s monthly rainfall average of 40 millimetres, and will probably beat the 43.6 millimetre total rainfall for autumn.

Meantime, the bureau has just made information from its new Doppler radar available to the public.

The improved radar installed at Captains Flat can gather real-time imagery, showing wind speed and direction, and accumulated rainfall, which can be viewed online at the bureau’s website.

With the upgrade, the frequency of images displayed on the website has increased from once every 10 minutes to once every six minutes, and accumulated rainfall can now be displayed in timeframes ranging from one to 24 hours.

The doppler radar can also predict changes in wind speed and direction over a 250 kilometre radius, and will make a significant difference to the accuracy of short-term severe weather forecasts provided to airlines and Canberra Airport.

Bureau of Meteorology NSW deputy regional director Stephen Lellyett said the upgraded service would enhance the bureau’s ability to monitor storm severity and fine-tune warnings during severe weather.

“Radar data complements forecasts and warnings provided to emergency services to assist in the tactical deployment of resources,” he said.