A “significant weather event” is stirring that could see Australia’s south and east plunged into a full-on winter maelstrom of driving rain, flooding, pounding snow, and plummeting temperatures.
The culprit is a wave of cold polar air that has detached itself from its usual track around Antarctica and is heading north on a collision course with the continent.
A meteorologist has said a “major polar outbreak” is due, which could mean a month’s rain in just 48 hours for Melbourne and the “remarkable” instance of snow beyond the usual areas extending to northern New South Wales and even creeping into Queensland.
The Perisher ski resort has announced it will open a week early due to the chilly weather. The central weather drama is set to begin next week. A series of cold fronts are set to sweep across the south during the weekend as a taster.
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“Showers will move through later tonight so enjoy the sunshine poking through while you can,” said Sky News Weather meteorologist Alison Osborne. “It will be colder on Saturday thanks to clear skies overnight, which means the mercury will drop very quickly. We’re looking at temperatures below 5C in southern NSW and areas of Victoria below freezing, especially over the northern country.”
On Saturday, widespread frost could cover much of the southeast away from the coasts, with pockets in southern Queensland. Showers are possible across Tasmania and southern Victoria.
Major polar outbreak set to hit
However, it’s from Monday onwards that things could begin to get interesting. “We are tracking a very significant cold weather event,” said Ms. Osborne. “Waves of cold air, known as the polar vortex, are generally wrapped around the Antarctic. “Occasionally though, a bubble of cold air will break away from that vortex and drift up and over eastern Australia.
“When that happens at this time of year, we’re looking at a high potential for hefty rain, windy conditions, and snow.” Called a “cold pool”, this scenario is likely to begin playing out from Monday in South Australia, reaching much of NSW by midweek. Meteorologists have warned that these weather systems are “dynamic” and can change, mainly when the forecast is a few days out. Where exactly rain and snow can land is, quite literally, up in the air. But if it does pan out as expected, it could cause all sorts of wild, wintry trouble.