Average temperatures are set to drop by 5-6C in some parts of Australia’s eastern states this week as “polar cold” sweeps north from Tasmania and up to Queensland.
The cold front will spread through Victoria and the western and southern parts of New South Wales midweek, hitting western Queensland by Thursday. It will then move to south-east Queensland and north-east NSW by early next week, resulting in a 3-4C drop below-average temperature in this region.
“It’s across a broad area where everyone will think ‘oh, it’s almost winter’,” said Helen Reid, a meteorologist at the Bureau of Meteorology.
“Queensland won’t have that same sense of polar cold as Victoria and NSW but it will definitely be a shift and will be a more noticeable thing in the western part of the state.”
Reid said Queensland can expect to experience intrusions of polar air from the southern states a few more times before the state settles into a drier winter.
The first dusting of snow may also hit mountain peaks this week in the high country of Tasmania, Victoria, and southern NSW, Reid said. The snow forecast for this winter will be modelled by BoM around the end of May.
In anticipation of a good snow season, Rhylla Morgan from Mt Buller resort said it has had some of the highest levels and earliest bookings they’ve seen on record. She said colleagues from other resorts were reporting the same thing.
Morgan said they’re looking forward to it being open for the whole season after the pandemic-related lockdowns disrupted the past two seasons. “If you’re wanting to come here you need to make a plan and start to book that now,” she said.
The cold front will bookend what has been a wetter than average April with Australia receiving 27% above average rainfall, according to the BoM’s weather summary. April also retains the crown for 2022 as the wettest year on record in Sydney.
Rainfall for April was above average for most of the eastern half of Australia, with significant flooding in some parts. NSW received 51% above-average rainfall, and Queensland recorded 68%, the ninth-wettest recorded April in both states.
Australia’s mean temperature for April was 1.61C warmer than the 1961–1990 average, the seventh-highest on record for April.
Meanwhile, maximum temperatures in April were the highest on record across the base of Northern Territory’s Top End, and in parts of northern Kimberley.
According to BoM’s latest climate driver update, the 2021–22 La Niña event is weakening. But there are signs that a negative phase of the Indian Ocean Dipole in May – the difference in sea surface temperature between the western and eastern areas of the Indian Ocean – will increase the chances of above-average rainfall through winter and spring.