2005 Season Snow Reports and Chases

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June 2005:

22/6/05 - Wednesday.

Some nice snow showers in Blackheath today at around 2pm that apparently lasted for around twenty minutes, although I wasn't here at the time as I was out at Oberon. It started out as sleety rain in Blackheath then soon turned to snow but there was no settling. Another snow shower occured in Blackheath at around 5pm and lasted for around fifteen minutes. I visited Oberon and areas south at lunch time and there was light sleet that soon turned to snow in the Jenolan Caves area. Mount Trickett had around 2 to 3cm on the ground at this time. Shooters Hill also presented us with some light snow but most of the showers were moving around us and not actually occuring over places accessible by roads. Mid level moisture was only moderate for this event and the BoM's forecast of scattered/isolated showers proved true. Besides that, the coldest air seemed a little slower to arrive out west than was hoped. It doesn't matter how cold it is at the surface and how much low pressure or other lifting mechanisms are around, if mid level moisture isn't great, you will typically only get shower activity instead of widespread rain/snow. More info on this event as I have time and as it unfolds overnight.

23/6/05 - Thursday.

Well today was certainly a better day! As expected, a surface low pressure system formed off the east coast and fed moisture into the upper level cold pool. Temps in this broad upper level cold pool were around -30° which certainly made for nice instability. Whilst this looked promising, there was a concern that the surface low would introduce warmer winds from the east and kill the chances of snow for the Blue Mountains. Luckily, surface temps were still cold enough when the moisture laden cloud band moved up the coast and interacted with the upper cold pool over the mountains. It was around -2° at daybreak and rose to around 0.5° by 10am but this was still cold enough for snow. The temp actually dropped back to -0.2° at 11am during the heaviest snowfalls and 0° at midday. Quite extraordinary indeed for the Blue Mountains. There was 3 to 5cm of settled snow throughout our town and because of the light winds, the wet snow stuck to trees and buildings, making for a lovely scene. Gradually the upper level cold pool moved north and we were left with light snow showers, snow grains and sleet for the rest of the afternoon. It wasn't so much the snowfall that was unusual but to have a temp of 0° at midday was certainly unusual indeed. One of the more memorable events for a few years or more.

July 2005:

10/7/05 - Sunday.

An east coast low formed overnight Saturday and drove strong winds and rain onto the southern coasts of NSW. In some places winds exceeded 100kph. Wollongong recorded 109kph winds this morning. Blackheath has so far had gusts over 80kph. This low formed near the NSW/VIC border on Saturday night and most of the rain and snow was concentrated in places reasonably nearby. The ski fields received a dumping and places like Cooma also had snow. Unfortunately for Blue Mountains snow lovers, the low didn't track far enough north to interact with the upper cold pool, so we didn't get any snow of note. Snow grains and sago snow (snow pellets) fell briefly on Saturday afternoon and sleet was observed throughout the night and into Sunday morning. The minimum temp in my gauge on Sunday morning was 0.9° and there was 1.6mm in the gauge. Snow was observed at Mt Cannobolas (overlooking Orange) and no doubt there would have been snow and sleet on other high spots across the Central Tablelands. Stop Press: Andrew M. reported 5 to 10cm of snow south of Oberon in the Gurnang area this morning. Gurnang is south of Shooters Hill and situated at around 1150 to 1200 metres above sea level. It doesn't appear that much snow settled below about 1150 metres ASL out that way. See the map on my main page for reference.

15/7/05 - Friday.

A high pressure ridge moved over the SE of Australia on Friday and Saturday, bringing with it some quite cold air. Instability was just sufficient over the ski fields (thanks to the added assistance of orographic lifting) to produce some nice snowfalls but this far north there was little snow to be had. There would have been some light snow in the higher areas south of Oberon as Oberon itself had some sleet on Friday and Saturday. Blackheath had some snow grains and snow pellets for short periods on Friday but nothing significant. High pressure ridges are generally made up of subsiding (sinking) air so instability in the mid levels isn't usually present. Generally speaking, the air at the surface was cold enough for sleet and snow to be widespread but there was little moisture available (particularly at the 700hPa level where moisture is needed most) so combined with the lack of instability, cold and clear conditions prevailed in most parts. Still, there was an excellent frost in Blackheath this morning with a minimum of -3° and more chilly mornings are expected this week.

5/8/05 - Friday

-3.2° this morning recorded as a minimum at my place in Blackheath. This was a screen minimum (over a metre above the ground) as the grass minimum would have been significantly colder. Heavy frosts, small ponds frozen over, some damage in the garden but alas no snow for our town apart from some very light sleet last night. Oberon observed sleet yesterday afternoon and no doubt there would have been light snow in higher areas south of Oberon above 1200 metres. This season continues to give us bursts of cold without much moisture. I recorded 10.5mm of rain from this event in the prefrontal cloud band but the cold air fields are just not bringing much snow this year. High pressure has been dominant which consists mostly of subsiding (sinking) air. The result? Cold air has certainly been around but we are getting frosts and clear days instead of cloud and snow associated with low pressure (rising air) systems. Even the ski fields are not faring that well this season with patchy cover the situation for most areas. Here's hoping for a better mid to late August, its certainly a possibility. Thank goodness we had that lovely fall on June 23!

10/8/05 - Wednesday

This event was certainly looking very cold but just how snowy it would be over the Blue Mountains in a south westerly air stream was the main question. On Wednesday afternoon I headed out to the usual areas south of Oberon, just in case this system didn't deliver to Blackheath. It started to sleet around Lowther and by the time I got to the Mt Bindo turnoff for Oberon, it was snowing lightly but steadily. Snow was accumulating on the surrounding hills which made me immediately think of Shooters Hill and just how much snow might be out there. Arriving at Oberon saw the snow showers pass and I headed straight for the higher ground. Chaser convergence occured at Shooters Hill with Jimmy, Geoff and Andrew M. greeting me with a few smiles and hand shakes. There was lovely dry snow here in the 5 to 10cm range in sheltered spots. After about an hour or so of watching the horizon and kicking around in the snow, I left the others and headed for Mt Trickett, on my way home. The roads where pretty snowy and it was a little tricky driving over Trickett and up the other side of Jenolan Caves. That evening, back in Blackheath, saw the really cold air arrive with about 2.5cm of snow settling in my yard. A nice freeze ocurred overnight and most of the snow was still there by morning. Very cold mornings followed for three days with temps well below zero and moisture on the inside of our windows froze for the first time. Today, Sunday the 14th, there was still a small amount of snow in the shaded, southern side of the local tennis club building. It also appears that Blackheath recorded its coldest ever August maximum on Thursday with around 2°. At time of writing, this is yet to be officially confirmed. A very nice event indeed. Not a lot of snow for our town but a lovely fall and a very dry, crunchy one.