Unusual cold snap grips southern Australia

Unusual cold snap grips southern Australia

Cold Snap

The southern parts of Australia are currently experiencing an unusual cold snap, with temperatures plummeting below zero in many areas. Residents in Melbourne woke up to the coldest morning of the year, with the mercury hitting zero degrees in the city center and even colder conditions between -1 and -3 degrees in outer Melbourne areas such as Horsham, Bendigo, Ballarat, Geelong, and the Mornington Peninsula. Melbourne is preparing for a string of mornings at or below 5 degrees for the rest of the week, potentially marking the coldest week the city has seen in 11 years.

South Australia also faced the big chill, with temperatures dropping to 0.9C. The cold spell extends to southern Western Australia, Tasmania, and the Australian Capital Territory, where temperatures remained in the single digits accompanied by widespread frost, according to the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM). The freezing conditions have been attributed to a combination of a cold air mass, clear skies, light winds, and a strengthening high-pressure system over southern Australia.

BOM forecasts indicate a slight respite from the cold starting Friday. Sydney and Darwin recorded the warmest temperatures, at 11C and 20C respectively. However, Sydney is in for a wet week with showers anticipated until Tuesday.

While the southern parts of Australia may not see substantial rainfall due to the high-pressure system, certain areas in southern Western Australia and along the east coast should prepare for intermittent showers.

Unusual cold snap affects Melbourne

An onshore flow from the ocean is expected to bring rain to southern New South Wales, extending to the tropical coast of northern Queensland.

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BOM senior meteorologist Angus Hines emphasized that the rain would not be heavy or extensive but would likely consist of intermittent spells through Thursday and Friday. A larger rain system will develop over central Australia, impacting pastoral districts and northern parts of South Australia. Western Queensland and southern parts of the Northern Territory can also expect spotty wet weather as the system moves eastward into next week.

It may seem paradoxical that cold records are still broken in a warming climate. However, while Australia has seen a decrease in very low temperatures over the past few decades, specific weather conditions can still lead to cold snaps. Human-caused climate change has resulted in more hot records than cold ones globally and within Australia.

As climate change influences global temperatures, Australians can expect fewer record-breaking cold periods. Nevertheless, understanding and preparing for these occasional cold snaps will help mitigate their impact. The current cold wave serves as a reminder of weather variability amidst an overarching climate warming trend.

Residents are advised to stay informed on weather updates and be prepared for the cold and showers that are heading their way.


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