After a brief glimpse of spring over the weekend for many of us, a major cold front is bearing down on large parts of southeast Australia drenching the cities and dumping snow.
People waking up in Canberra, Goulburn and parts of the Blue Mountains found their yards and cars dusted with snow.
Listeners calling up radio stations this morning also reported driving through snow as it fell on roads in the mountains and highlands.
A picture from Windellama, two and a half hours south of Sydney, summed up Australia’s wild weather.
Yesterday, the NSW country town had a “very high” fire danger with high winds and hot weather but this morning, just after 6am, the town — and its fire danger sign — was blanketed in snow.
Across to Western Australia, Perth locals woke to fog this morning that was so thick, the tops of buildings were obscured.
A significant rain band is moving its way along the east coast today.
The rain is pushing onshore along the NSW coast as heavy falls are forecast for Hunter and the mid-north coast.
Later in the week, the showers will start to ease up as fire dangers increase.
Up to 100mm of rain is forecast for Sydney by end of the week and up to 15mm is expected to hit inland NSW including drought-affected regions Dubbo.
Today, the front is moving north along the New South Wales coast where it will meet with an inland trough bringing some of the heaviest rainfall totals in three months for parts of the state.
“We are going to see a gusty change rolling across the Sydney region, the Illawarra and also the Hunter later on (Monday),” Sky News Weather channel presenter Rachel Raez said.
Sydney’s CBD hit almost 27C at lunchtime and the mercury passed 30C in the city’s west but by around 3pm the temperature had plummeted by 10 degrees as the front raced through.
In Sydney, intense rain is due to hit later this afternoon and continue throughout the night. At 4pm showers were starting in the city’s south west.
The Bureau of Meteorology also has a strong wind warning for today along the southeast coast including Sydney, Byron Bay, Coffs Harbour and the Illawarra.
However, the heaviest rainfall will hit today.
It’s going to be a lot cooler along the NSW coast today too. Sydney for example will hit a top of just 13C.
“Sydney could be seeing up to 45mm of rain and Newcastle could be seeing up to 60mm rain from this event,” said Ms Raez, meaning parts of the coast are likely to see the heaviest rain in three months.
The wet front will also stretch inland. Canberra, for example, will see up to 25mm of rainfall — an amount it hasn’t seen since July.
There will be a moment of relief towards the end of the week before another cold front is expected to track in from the west of the state, bringing more rain to the NSW coast over the weekend.
Despite the forecast rain, the return of warm westerly winds and higher temperatures across NSW this week is set to push bushfire danger back to dangerous levels.
Fire conditions across NSW eased on Sunday, with firefighters gaining the upper hand on two blazes while another remains out of control in the state’s north.
n bushfire-stricken Queensland, authorities have spent the last few days strengthening containment lines around blazes across the state while weather conditions have eased.
However, the fire danger remains high to very high ahead of deteriorating firefighting conditions forecast to arrive early this week.
“The fire conditions will remain for us for some time,” Acting Fire Commissioner Mike Wassing said on Sunday.
The 10-day emergency has seen some 1200 bushfires burning across the state, with more than 600 community warnings issued in the past two weeks. Officials have warned some fires could burn for months because the ground is bone-dry and there is no significant rain in sight.
In the Northern Territory, out-of-control bushfires have prompted the highest level of alert for residents in Humpty Doo and Milne
Bushfires NT has announced a total fire ban today in the Darwin and Adelaide River areas, the fifth consecutive day of total fire bans.
Back in NSW, the Rural Fire Service has downgraded the alert level to advice for a fire burning in the New England region about 15 kilometres east of Glen Innes.
The out-of-control blaze has burnt more than 9000 hectares but the RFS says the threat to homes has eased and roads are reopening.
But today’s weather — with a strong wind warning in Sydney, the Hunter, Illawarra, Batemans and Eden Coast, and temperatures pushing 30C — caused fresh headaches for firefighters.
Favourable conditions for firefighting wouldn’t return until Wednesday.
“Fortunately today we didn’t have as bad a day as yesterday. Most firefighters held on their current containments,” an RFS spokesman told AAP yesterday. “(Monday), it will be a problem day.”
On Sunday, about 12 fires were burning out of control across NSW.
In northern NSW’s Drake, firefighters were getting control of a blaze which has burnt more than 53,000 hectares but has now been downgraded to advice alert level.
Fire crews had also gained the upper hand on a bushfire burning in Bees Nest near Armidale which is at advice alert level.
The blaze has razed more than 90,000 hectares and continues to burn on multiple fronts within Guy Fawkes River National Park, Mount Hyland Nature Reserve and Nymboi-Binderay National Park.