Weather Sydney, Melbourne: ‘Polar surge’ headed for Australia

A major cold climate system will sweep south east Australia over the weekend, bringing heavy rain, damaging winds and snow.

A major cold system – dubbed the “polar surge” – is expected to spread across southern and southeastern Australia over the weekend, bringing heavy rain, damaging winds and snow.

Sky News Weather chief meteorologist Tom Saunders said the polar front will sweep north over the weekend, hitting Western Australia first before moving east.

“This is great,” he said. “This is a major cold epidemic that will spread across the nation’s southeast early next week.”

He said the polar wave will result in downpours for WA’s south coast and strong southerly winds, which will move east across southern Australia.

By Monday and Tuesday, the system will loom over most of south-east Australia, bringing widespread showers. Saunders warned that there may be hail and thunder in parts of Victoria and NSW.

Between late Sunday and Tuesday, the system is expected to bring strong or gale force winds to both states and Tasmania.

“It is likely that during that time we will have adverse weather warnings for wind gusts damaging parts of the coast and mountain ranges,” he said.

“It’s a very wintry weather pattern with strong westerly winds and widespread showers.”

He said over 50mm of rain is expected for the next seven days along the South Australian coast, the Victorian coast and mountain ranges, and across western Tasmania.

“And it’s not just rain,” Saunders said. “There will be snow and some heavy snow which will develop in the Alps and drop below 1000m on Tuesday.”

He said that means it will reach NSW’s central ranges and across the Tasmanian highlands before starting to recede on Wednesday.

There is good news for snow sports enthusiasts as it is expected that up to half a meter of fresh snow will be discharged into the Alps and as it is so late in the fall that it should be cold enough for the next few weeks to form a decent base of winter snow.

La Niña to last until August and spring

The cold front comes when rainy weather is expected to hit Australia and the southern hemisphere, with another weather system that brings more rain in winter and spring.

Recent research suggests that there is a “high probability” (62%) of La Niña, which started more than 18 months ago, continuing through June and August, with a 55-60% chance that the event will continue until to spring.

This means Australia could continue to be lashed by above-average rainfall, which has caused disastrous flooding in NSW and Queensland.

It would only be the fourth La Nina triple observed since 1900 and the first time the phenomenon has occurred in 22 years.

– with Jessica Wang

Originally published as The polar surge has headed for Australia