The “Antarctic blob” – a large area of upper level cold air that originated in polar regions near Antarctica – will see as much as a metre of snow fall on alpine areas of NSW by the end of the weekend.
“We could see snow in places like Orange and Oberon where we don’t normally do at this time of year,” Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Helen Kirkup said, noting the snow level could drop to 600 metres.
As of Thursday, Snowy Hydro’s snow-depth readings were well shy of the same period a year ago, with little snow at Three Mile Dam or Deep Creek. Victoria’s ski fields – mostly deserted because of the COVID-19 lockdowns – will also get a snow dump after a generally light winter.
Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster Alex Majchrowski said the “decent pool of cold air” will also bring as much as 10 centimetres of snow on Friday into Saturday for the central west of NSW, including at Orange and Oberon.
For Sydney, the winds will pick up on Friday and drop temperatures. The forecast top of 16 degrees on Saturday in the city will feel more like 9-10 degrees because of the wind chill, Mr Majchrowski said.
The return to mostly clear skies in the wake of the cold front will also bring frosty mornings to much of inland NSW for several days at the start of next week, he said.
Another cold front will probably cross from Western Australia in about a week’s time although it may be pushed further south thanks to a large high-pressure system expected to set in over inland Australia.
The strong winds so far this week have generated some wild weather including a tornado in southern Adelaide on Tuesday evening and generated dust storms in far western NSW.
The NSW Rural Fire Service said people should delay burn-offs, given the expected blustery conditions.
The RFS was expecting to bring a fire that broke out on Wednesday at Duranbah in far north-eastern NSW under control by late on Thursday.
Water-bombing aircraft were used for a second day on Thursday, with the blaze burning more than 360 hectares, making it one of the biggest fires so far this season.
Still, the RFS has counted slightly more than 700 scrub, grass and bushfires since July 1, or about one-third of the same amount a year earlier.
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Peter Hannam writes on environment issues for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
Mary Ward is a reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald.