2004 Snow Reports and Chases

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Winter 2004

June 2004:

20/6/04: The models were forecasting a quite cold outbreak for this day and in this context it didn't dissapoint. Blackheath only reached 4C on Sunday as a maximum and that was only for a brief time indeed. On Saturday we had rain and sleet showers in the afternoon and some very light snow at this time and also again in the evening. Still, it was becoming clear by Saturday afternoon and into the evening that the moisture levels in this system were a touch less than predicted. So, as usual a trip out to Shooters Hill on Sunday was warranted. There was light snow in the Hampton area as Adam and I headed further west at around 8:30am. Whilst moisture was a little lacking, it was pretty clear that this event was certainly quite cold and I wasn't keen to drive out really early in my 2WD and encounter icy roads. We deliberated whether to head into Jenolan Caves from Mt Bindo but decided to take the safer route via Oberon. It was the best decision as we later encountered 4WD's sliding and slipping via the Jenolan route as we approached Mt Trickett from the Oberon road. Upon arriving in Oberon at about 9:30am, we were greeted with nice moderate snow showers and about 3cm of snow on the ground in a well spread cover. After the obligatory snaps, we responded to Big Willy's sms's and headed straight for Shooters Hill. It was a bit of a challenge in the 2WD but apart from some patches of slippery ice and slushy snow, it wasn't too bad. It was great to catch up with some fellow snow chasers (and Anewts Grandma!) as we shivered and shuttered (photos) our way through the mid morning. On the eastern side of Shooters, there were quite decent drifts of dry snow although at the very top, the snow was wind blown and icy. Eventually, our shutter fingers were stinging with cold so we decided to head to the more sheltered environs of Mt Trickett, further east. This was the hardest driving of the whole trip. Even when the snow cover was light at Edith, it was still very icy. Quickly, as we drove higher, it became quite difficult to get traction in my little car. Still, with the security of Max behind us in his 4WD, we ploughed on, literally. At Trickett, we found nice, dry snow in the 6cm or so range that probably would have been around 10cm before the compression and melt. Snowmen were made, snowballs rolled and thrown and good fun was had by all except for the guys sliding like buggery on the road up from Jenolan Caves. We headed home the Oberon way and encountered a fella in a ditch who seemed to have hit a bad patch of ice and slid for many metres. He was wedged in and the local police were not happy. All in all, a good days snow chasing even if it wasn't as snowy as had hoped. See my snow links on the main page for the photos.

26/6/04: Another cold outbreak brought snow to the Central Ranges today. I didn't get out west for a look but other snow enthusiasts certainly did and this is based on some of their observations. The snow was mostly light out west near Shooters Hill with the iced up trees and landscape being the most prominent feature. This was probably a result of the frozen drizzle and mist after the weather became more stable. Another theory is that the quite thick ice covering trees and fences etc was the result of snow falling through a warm layer of air and turning into rain and then hitting a colder layer close to the surface and freezing instantly on contact with trees etc. Such an event is not uncommon in places like Canada. Blackheath stayed chilly all day Saturday with cold rain and perhaps sleet very early Saturday morning only amounting to 0.6mm in my gauge. Max temp for Blackheath for Saturday was 5.1C at my place and nice frost this morning, Sunday. Go to my photos link on the main page and once there on the photos page, view Marsh's link just below the 2004 snow photos link for some great ice shots out Shooters Hill way. Note: This from a 7th of July post on the Weatherzone forums from Matthew Piper: "...I have now received confirmation that what occurred at Shooters Hill was almost definitely freezing rain. I showed my footage of the ice to some senior meteorologists at the Bureau and they agreed that it more likely than not was caused by freezing rain and not drizzle or cloud droplets. Definitely a very interesting event and one which the Bureau staff were interested in learning more about."

July 2004:

6/7/04: Some light snow and sleet showers here in Blackheath this morning in temps of around 2.5C. Snow fell only because the relative humidity was around 70%, enabling the snow to survive in the above freezing conditions via the evaporative cooling effect. As soon as the humidity rose a touch, the light showers turned to sleet and snow grains then drizzle. Ten minutes or so passed and that was it. Better than nothing, I guess. Our max only reached 6.7C today under cloudy skies with intermittant sunshine. I haven't heard of reports of snow further west but I would imagine they had at least some.

7/7/04: A bit of snow, a bit of sleet, some snow grains and some rain. That about sums up Blackheath's weather experience today. Oh and of course, the fresh to strong winds. Lots of that. The weather couldn't really make up its mind today with half of the time being 4/8 cover and then it would move on back to full cloud cover and sleet etc. Still, not a lot of rain in the gauge. The Oberon area had frequent snow showers above around 1000 metres today with light settling of a few cms in the Shooters Hill area. Blackheath's maximum temp today was 5.1C. Note: I made a brief detour to Oberon and Shooters Hill the next morning and the amount of snow that fell out there would have been roughly in the 2 to 4cm range. It was very slippery on the roads, a result of the overnight freeze mixed with melting snow and sleet not to mention my early arrival on the scene.

Saturday 17/7/04: Well nature finally gave the upper Blue Mountains something to crow about. Snow! Not large amounts, no thunder or torrential sleet and hail but at least it was a nice, solid cover followed by a good overnight freeze into Sunday that left everything iced over. Saturday started fairly sunny with light winds, quite benign indeed. After a chat with the local vegie delivery fellow and being told there was no chances of snow, I was feeling a little worried when the sat pic seemed to reflect his sentiments. There was a nice upper air disturbance over the Goulburn area and I hoped this would translate to some snow for my town but alas, apart from some very light snow flurries, I was disappointed. Of course, this initial change wasn't going to bring bucket loads of snow but its lack of punch for my area sowed the seeds of doubt for the forecasted east coast low pressure system, due in later on Saturday night. Thankfully those seeds of doubt were washed away with a lovely looking satellite image by Saturday evening and the commencement of light but continual snow in Blackheath. It wasn't settling but it was falling nicely, swirling around in energetic eddies. A number of us on the Weatherzone Breaking Weather forum had our eyes and hearts set on a nice band of showers evident on the radar and sat pic heading towards the Blue Mountains. Minutes dragged by, sliding into an hour or two before those showers arrived, releasing a nice fall of wait for it, snow! It snowed quite strongly for half an hour to an hour leaving about 4cm in my yard. The cover was solid and very dry, almost powder like. It still snowed lightly after midnight and flakes were still coming down when I hit the hay around 1:30am but it had eased off a lot. Next morning at 6am, there was still a good 3cm or more on the ground and I went to work with the camera. Thanks goodness we finally got something up here! View my photos on the usual photos links on the main page.

You can also view Andrew's comments and pictures on this event below:

Andrew's report

And you can also view Laurier's excellent and extensive report of the event, covering NSW, Victoria and Tasmania:

Australian Weather News Report

August 2004:

Tuesday/Wednesday, 4th/5th of August: A fun time in Blackheath with snow showers commencing on Tuesday at around 11am and lasting for 30 minutes or so. The temp dropped to 1C at this time. There were more sleet showers throughout the day. Another front moved in by Wednesday morning and it started sleeting in Blackheath by 5am or so. By 6:30am, it was snowing lightly with light settling and this continued until around 8am. At 11:30am, moderate rain began, then snow pellets followed by a lovely fall of snow that lasted until midday with light settling. The best blast came at around 2pm when snow pelted down for around half an hour. Flakes ranged in size at this time from around 1cm diameter to about 3cm diameter. It was a great fall that had thick snow blowing sideways and rushing underneath our carport. The temperature went from around 4C to 1C in very quick time. It looked like we were going to be snowed in but as can be the way with isolated, cumuliform cloud snow (and indeed Blackheath's want for getting the dregs) it soon passed...and melted. Areas around Oberon and south had more snow, in the 5 to 10cm range on average with Mt Trickett probably picking up the best fall (around 15cm) as its more protected from the wind there. The cold pool expected to give our area more snow on Wednesday sadly moved a little further north, giving areas like Armidale and Guyra some snow - still we have to share things around. Starting from Monday, which gave us light rain, thunder and light hail, we had 8.3mm to Wednesday morning - a good portion of that was frozen precipitation of some form. A very enjoyable event.

Sunday 15th of August: A lovely snowfall this morning in Blackheath with a minimum temperature of -0.8C. I recorded 4 to 5cm in my backyard at 7am this morning and falls of 3 to 5cm were noted in other spots across town. I sometimes forget that snow showers can behave quite similarly to rain showers in that you can get lighter or heavier falls within close proximity to each other. The snow fell just before sunrise so there was plenty of it still sticking to the trees and shrubs. The road was still completely covered when I got up at around 6:30am. Yesterday saw light snow flurries commence at around 5pm which persisted for about 15 minutes before a break and then another flurry for roughly another 15 minutes. Very light snow fell into the evening but it was barely noticeable. By 10pm Saturday night, the Canberra radar was showing up a nice band of showers heading north. The satellite image was also showing a decent cold pool moving north along the coast. I wasn't awake to see it fall this time but what an enjoyable surprise! A number of folk on the Weatherzone forum were saying last night that it was interesting to note that the BOM didn't have snow at all in their forecasts for the Central Tablelands but LAPS and other models were clearly showing the potential for snow. As of 10am this morning, the snow is well and truly melting, as most Blue Mountains snow does as the day warms up.