2003 Snow Reports and Chases

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June 2003:

Saturday 7/6/03:

Fresh to strong winds have buffeted the upper Blue Mountains and areas of the Central Tablelands since last Thursday. The associated cold front also brought light sleet and possibly snow to areas around Oberon on Saturday. Blackheath had some light, sleety rain on Saturday (0.2mm) but there certainly wasn't any snow. Our maximum for Saturday was only 6C. Maximum wind gusts during this event peaked at over 80kph. A light frost was observed on Sunday with a minimum at my place of 1.5C.

Footnote: There were light and brief snow showers at Shooters Hill (see map) on Saturday around 10am. This area peaks out at around 1355 metres, so there was just enough elevation to squeeze out some moisture. The flakes in these falls were quite large and driven almost horizontally by the strong SW winds. The temperature bottomed out at around 1C at the time - thanks to Matt Piper and Jeff Brislane ffor this report.

Saturday 14/6/03:

Strong winds buffeted the Blue Mountains and Central Tablelands again this weekend. As this event drew closer, it was clear that it wasn't going to be as strong as first indicated by the models. Still, it certainly packed enough punch when it came to wind and wind chill. My wife and I headed to Mount Trickett on Saturday afternoon and encountered light rain and sleet at around 3:30pm. We found a sheltered spot nearby and waited for around twenty minutes, hoping for some more moisture and colder air to arrive. It didn't happen at that time. We headed out to Shooters Hill and were soon greeted with a nice snowfall, although the flakes were blowing horizontal because of the strong winds. I would have to say, the sustained wind speed was the most significant factor during this snow chase. The winds looked to be consistently above 90kph on top of the hill, although with Shooters Hill now being denuded of any trees, it was hard to tell! The snowfall only lasted for around ten minutes. We then had a nice dinner in Oberon watching icy rain and sleet fall outside the window. Blackheath didn't record any snow but light rain fell in temps of around 3C this evening. A light frost and a minimum of 0C occured on Sunday morning.

Special thanks goes to David C. for advising me of snow on the way for Shooters Hill, as we were thinking of leaving the area just before his text message arrived.

Monday 23/6/03:

Sleet showers woke me this morning at around 5am. Ice was bouncing off the footpath in reasonable quantities for a few minutes. The temperature was around 2C at the time so no snow was around. It seems likely there would have been snow above 1100 to 1200 metres in the Oberon region overnight. Yesterday's temp profile was, 0C to 7C with fresh winds for our town. Currently it is overcast here, with the chance of more light showers. 0.9mm of rain and sleet overnight.

Footnote: A reliable report said that south of Oberon near Black Springs had about 5cm of snow overnight Sunday and into Monday.

July 2003:

July 24 to 26:

Well, after a particularly uneventful first three weeks of July, nature decided to shift the balance a little! After a very mild maximum of 15C on the 23rd, the next three days had: 4.5, 6.5, 3.8 for maximums. Numerous 'snow chasers' hit the slopes of the NSW Tablelands over this period, looking for that good dump. Matt Pearce was perhaps one of the first to lay eyes on an excellent fall on Thursday the 24th. There were 50cm drifts at Shooters Hill and a nice cover in the settlement of Black Springs.

On the 25th, myself, my wife and a mate headed out to view what Matt had enthusiastically reported. And I tell you what, most of it was still there! On this day, most of the snow was falling above 1200 metres, which was similar to Matt's experience. Of note was the quite good moisture situation, with ample vertical extent in passing cumulus clouds to produce moderately heavy falls at times. The temperature would have been close to zero at Shooter's Hill at around 9:30am when strong winds drove moderate snow almost horizontally. There we met up with a couple of other desperados in Matt Smith and Andrew. After some happy snaps and a snow bomb from Adam that fooled us into thinking it came from the tower, we gradually made our way home - not before a few of us headed to Oberon's fabled pie shop.

On Saturday morning the 26th, I made a quick dash out to Mt Trickett and encountered another great snowfall. 850 temps were progged to be colder with this next front and the progs certainly delivered! Light snow dusted the ground from about the 1000 metre mark near Hampton. There was lots of ice on the road on the eastern side of Jenolan Caves and it remained this way until about the 900 metres ASL mark before the descent into the caves. This twisty, steep road is a little tricky at the best of times and with lots of ice and a few startled wallabies, it lived up to its reputation big time, today. I almost regretted going this way in my 2WD and had a few soft slides at slow speed. I wouldn't recommend this way in such cold conditions, it goes over 1250 metres ASL in sections at the top of the range and was very icy today. Take the Oberon approach to Trickett instead. Slower but safer. Upon arrival at Mount Trickett on the other side of Jenolan Caves, I was greeted with fantastic, dry snow. There was around 10cm or so on the ground, perhaps a little more in protected areas. There was less moisture in this fall compared to the one of yesterday but it was definitely colder. I would say it was at least -2C up there which wasn't bad for around 9am. You can usually tell when it gets below say -3C or -4 for any length of time as the puddles really harden up and they weren't that hard today. All in all a great few days.

Tuesday July 29th:

Light snow flurries occured in Blackheath on Tuesday night. It was certainly cold enough for good snowfalls but alas, lack of moisture was the problem. Flurries commenced just after dark and continued intermittantly well into the evening. Katoomba had a little more snow than Blackheath with a few more passing showers. It was -1C the next morning.

August 2003:

Tuesday August 5th:

A pretty impressive thunderstorm hit Blackheath last night - see the General weather obs link at the top of this page for more.

Monday August 18th:

Some chilly weather this afternoon in Blackheath. Some nice convective showers produced hail intermittantly for half an hour or more at around 3:30pm. The temperature at this time was around 3C. Later in the evening there were brief periods of cold rain followed by sleet with the temp around 2 to 3C but moisture limitations prevented any significant falls. -1.5C was the minimum Tuesday morning, with clear skies. Just under 1mm of precipitation fell late afternoon and overnight.

September 2003:

Sunday September 14th:

What a nice fall out west tonight! The day started out with fresh winds in Blackheath, peaking at around 90 kph by afternoon. A number of us on the Weatherzone forum were surprised to see no graziers alert out for the Central Tablelands and no mention at all of potential snow for the area. By around 5pm, the satellite picture was showing real potential for a decent burst of snow in the Oberon region and further south. Cold air convection cells dotted the satellite over the south east of NSW and there was a nice cloud band preceding it that gave rise to, "snow chase or not?". The answer was a resounding, yes! I left Blackheath around 5:45pm and not long after that precipitation was occuring. Turning off to Oberon and reaching Hampton with sleet blasting the window, it was clear that I was in for a snow show. I've never seen such intense, sideways blasting sleet then snow. It was so strong that by the time I arrived at the Mt Bindo T intersection, there was just no way I could head to Mt Trickett via Jenolan Caves - too windy and too snowy. So, being a bit low on petrol and in need of a safer route, I headed to Oberon with the snow getting heavier and the wind stronger. As I arrived at Oberon, conditions abated somewhat with light snow falling as I pulled into the local servo. A quick chat with a guy that had just driven from Black Springs set my heart racing and my imagination soaring. "Yeah mate, its going great out there! A few cm on the ground I reckon." So, after a few text messages I headed out to Black Springs. Soon I was driving into teaming snow. It was throwing itself down. Horizontal, large flakes splat onto the windscreen such that after around 11 kilometres, I couldn't drive anymore. By this time, there was maybe two or three cms on the ground. After a few photos in the dark, I headed back to Oberon where it was now also snowing quite heavily. A few more text messages and then before long I was driving home. My concern was that my little 2WD would soon be struggling, as the snow settled more. Back in Blackheath we had light snow flurries around tea time (I wasn't here but fellow snow lovers Marsh and Laurier were) and a more prolonged burst at around 9pm. Snow is again falling in the Oberon region this morning , Monday. I've put a few pics in the General Weather section of my snow photos links. A lovely September snowfall, after a pretty benign August.

Saturday September 27th:

This morning started with fresh winds that became stronger by lunchtime. Whilst out on my delivery run, I thought I saw a few flakes floating around but imagined them to be spring blossoms. About an hour later, around 11am, more 'blossoms' fell. I experienced about three separate snow flurries within half an hour but they were light and of short duration. Then just before midday, a really decent snow shower persisted for a few minutes with flakes briefly settling on the garden before melting. Another final burst of snow showers at around 1:45pm was even more impressive, lasting up to ten minutes. The flakes in this final fall were more than one centimetre across and at times quite intense. Of note in these falls was the temperature being well above zero (around 3 to 4C). As we know, snow can fall at this temperature if the relative humidity is less than 100%. It was actually around 70% during these falls which allowed the snow to experience an evaporative cooling effect from the surrounding air, keeping it 'alive' in relatively warm temps. Going back a few days, the GASP computer forecasting model (and later LAPS) did indicate that the air at our altitude may have been cold enough for snow but it was marginal at best. It just goes to show, models can only take us so far and then its up to the weather to do the rest. Tonight its clear and it looks like a frost tomorrow if the winds will settle down up here on the ridge. A great day for late September! See my General Weather Photos section for a pic of the snow flurries in Blackheath.

Note: -2.1C for a minimum on Sunday morning, not bad for late September.

October 10th, 2003:

Today started out quite cool with a minimum of 0C, which is very cool for October. In the afternoon Blackheath was greeted with some nice sago snow showers that last for five minutes or so. Snow was also reported in the afternoon at Oberon and further south to Taralga but there was no significant settling to my knowledge. The southern highlands also reported sago snow and sleet. Blackheath reached a maximum of 9C but the temp was around 4C during the sago snow, perhaps even colder if mercury thermometer latency is taken into account. Today, Saturday, Blackheath recorded a minimum of -1C.