Good Friday cold blast in Albany brings April snow to WA for first time in 49 years


April 20, 2019 01:38:10

Western Australia’s south west has received an unexpected surprise this Good Friday, with snowfall on Bluff Knoll in the Stirling Range.

Key points:

  • The Easter snow is an “extremely rare” April occurrence
  • Maximum temperatures were at around six to eight degrees in many Great Southern towns
  • People in WA should expect temperatures to dip overnight and into Saturday morning

This is the earliest recorded snow event in the state’s history.

The last recorded fall before this time was April 20 in 1970, according to the Bureau of Meteorology records.

A flurry was recorded on the peak, the highest point in the Stirling Range, about 100km north of Albany, after 2pm on Friday.

Dozens of hikers made the trek up the 1099m tall Bluff Knoll on Friday, which generally records light snow a couple of times each winter but rarely in April.

A strong cold front hit the region on Friday bringing a cold pool of air behind it, generated from Antarctica, which also dumped hail on Albany.

The city was covered in white as a hail storm swept through at about 1pm.

Maximum temperatures were hovering at six to eight degrees at midday in many Great Southern towns.

The WA Bureau of Meteorology’s (BOM) Matt Boterhoven said snow is an extremely rare occurrence in April.

“It’s exceptional. We’ve only recorded once, in the last 100 years, snow as early as this on top of the Stirling Ranges,” he said.

“It’s related to a very strong cold air mass moving over the south west of the state, so when conditions get below freezing and there’s precipitation, snow can form on top of Stirling Ranges.”

Mr Boterhoven said people should expect temperatures to dip, with further snow flurries overnight and possibly into Saturday morning.

“It’s going to be a cold night down in the south west tonight, and even more so on Sunday morning where we could see some frost over large parts of the Wheatbelt when temperatures go below three degrees,” he said.

The snow follows a wet Easter weekend forecast for Western Australia.

Earlier this week, meteorologists said the state’s south west corner would experience blustery winds, rain and hail as holidaymakers prepared to travel for the long weekend.

“It’s the first major front of the cool season and there’s even the possibility of some snow up on the higher ground in the Stirling Ranges,” BOM spokesman Neil Bennett said.

“We’re really keen for people to be aware that this weather is coming, because during Easter weekend a lot of people are out and about especially in the campsites, we know that they’re very full.

“Cold fronts do happen in April but this is a very active one and with the wet and windy conditions — if people aren’t prepared properly they may find that it’s a bit unpleasant out there.”







First posted

April 20, 2019 01:33:58

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