It is amazing how many people don’t know that it snows occasionally in some parts of Australia during their winter, and yet there can’t be many years without an item on the BBC news with images of Kangaroos hopping through deep drifts of snow or a Koala bear replete with an icicle dripping from the end of its nose. A plunge of cold air (it’s always seems to be a plunge doesn’t it) right from the Antarctic has hit New South Wales and the Snowy Mountains (the clue is in the name). So I decided to download the latest analysis which includes the 1000-850 hPa thickness from Australia’s BOM to see just how cold this air was. As well as being a very small image for what is a pretty huge continent, BOM don’t like adding labels to their contours either, so I have taken an educated guess here and coloured the isolines in good old fashioned Met Office style.
Just to be on the safe side I downloaded the latest ascent from Canberra for 12 UTC today to check their 1000-850 thickness which was 537.3 dm which kind of fits with the analysis. The Australian Alps do reach as high as 2,000 metres and home to a number of ski resorts that are skiable from June to October.
As a footnote, the climate attribution department at the Met Office (similar to the Spanish Inquisition, but only looking at climate and weather events at the moment associated with AGW) are looking into why recreational skiing in the Australian Alps, which started as long ago as 1861, hasn’t died out long before now. A spokesperson at the department said “our ongoing research into the matter suggests that it won’t be long now”.