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After heatwave, summer snow and coldest February in a decade

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An unseasonal cold front, moving north out of the Southern Ocean, brought chilly, squally winds and strong showers to coastal regions of Victoria on February 19 and 20, 2017, and about 5 to 10 cm (2 – 4 inches) of summer snow to the NSW and Victorian High Country, Australia. However, the summer is still not over, as hot and windy conditions are expected back in the region on Wednesday, February 22, bringing severe to extreme fire danger over much of Victoria.

Temperatures dropped sharply as the cold front moved in, making several Victorian towns record their coldest ever overnight temperatures on Sunday night, February 19.

On the same day, Melbourne recorded its coldest February day in 12 years, reaching just 17.3 °C (63.1 °F). This wintry blast in Victoria also brought a record minimum to Swan Hill with just 5.5 °C (41.9 °F).

Overall, it was about 9 °C (16.2 °F) lower than the average temperature for this time of year.

BOM's senior forecaster Dean Stewart said that summer snow occurs about once every five years. "It's unusual for it to snow at this time of the year, but not unprecedented," he said. “When we get cold bursts of air coming from the Southern Ocean they can be cold enough to produce snow.”

Snow was reported in Victorian alpine areas of Mount Hotham, Falls Creek and Mount Buller as temperatures dropped from warm highs of 20 °C (68 °F) to as low as -2 °C (28.4 °F). Mount Hotham recorded 5 – 10 cm (2 – 4 inches) of snow accumulation.

BOM Victoria said today the weather is warming up again, with windy 34 °C (93.2 °F) expected soon. "Hot, windy weather will give severe to extreme fire danger over much of Victoria Wednesday."

With that, fire bans are back in force.

Featured image: Summer snow – Mount Hotham on February 19, 2017. Credit: Hotham

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