31-12-08, Wednesday 11am: Tonight is looking quite clear across Sydney and the Blue Mountains, so if you are wanting to view any fireworks it looks like a good night for it. There's a slight chance of cloud on the coast tonight but its most likely to be pretty clear. Happy New Year to all!
23-12-08, Tuesday 7:40pm: The NSW BoM have suggested that the tornado over the southern tablelands today was the best example seen in Australia. I have access to a picture of it but cannot host it, due to copyright issues at present. It is an amazing image, looks just like one of those beasts from the United States. You can view it here from another site for now. Tornado link.
28-11-08, Friday midday: Some pretty good storms yesterday afternoon and evening here in Blackheath with hail approaching 3cm in size in my area although the ground cover was only light to moderate here. Rainfall (and even hail size and ground coverage) varied notably which is not uncommon during storms as they are usually scattered or isolated in nature. I picked up 22m to 9am today but Mount Boyce AWS recorded 42mm for the same time period. You could see the first storm approach Blackheath from the SW then dog leg and move move northwards along the ridge yesterday afternoon, so the higher totals at Mt Boyce are not surprising. There is certainly potential for severe storms today although this far east, heavy rain is more likely than large hail. There is still a possibility of damaging hail across the mountains, so be careful.
23-11-08, Sunday 10:30am: Light sleet and snow fell in Blackheath from about 5:30am to 8:30am. The showers were pretty regular but no settling here. Out at Oberon was another story. The township had about two to three cm clinging to the trees when I was there at about 7:30am and further south near Shooters Hill there was at least 5cm to 10cm on the ground. I couldn't actually make it to the Shooters Hill tower as the snow was too thick on the road. An amazing fall for late November. A more detailed report with charts may come this week as I have time. See the Oberon area photos in the usual links above.
22-11-08, Saturday 7:30pm: We've had four or five cold air, convective cells pass over this afternoon all bringing with them hail and sleet and sometimes some nice snow flurries but usually it was all gone after five to ten minutes. We just had a pelting shower of sleet and hail and snow for five to ten minutes again. It was a ripper, very windy with sheets of hail and sleet visible as it blew across the sky in waves, highlighted by the setting sun. The upper levels appear to be cooling a little (Can't check in detail though as the BoM site is totally down at present) so the passing showers overnight may turn to sleet or cold rain. We could get lucky with some snow but sleet or hail and rain is the most likely outcome.
22-11-08, Saturday 2:30pm: Some lovely light but steady sleet showers are occuring in Blackheath with some nice flurries of flakes now and then. Its well above zero but as passing cold air cells move over they quickly lower the temp and allow flakes to fall. This is not uncommon with spring outbreaks. Radar shows the chance of more sleet/snow/hail soon. If you look at the IR sat loop link on the main page you can see the coldest upper air feature moving roughly our way. Hopefully, as that arrives later today, we have a better chance of full-on snow. Fingers crossed!
22-11-08, Saturday 7am: You can see the upper feature that the MLAPS forecasting model describes moving into Victoria now. This is the disturbance that augers well for the tablelands as it slides north east. Keep an eye on it. Up high on the OP etc, we could see hail precede this and indeed sleet but its that cold air field due in later today that has the colder stuff in it. Fingers crossed it stays somewhat intact and brings some icy precipitation.
21-11-08, Friday 8am: This system is looking just as strong this morning on the charts as it has for some days. It is certainly a powerful front for late November. The main forecasting models are showing a slight disagreement on the timing of the coldest air so the exact timing of this system is still a little uncertain. From about mid-morning Saturday to late on Saturday looks to be the focal point at this stage. I think wet snow is fairly likely above 1200 metres on the Oberon Plateau along with small, wintry hail. The upper Blue Mountains could also get lucky. I would rate it a 25% to 30% chance of Blackheath seeing hail and sleet and about a 15% chance of seeing snow. You can now see the system clearly on the satellite loop as it surges towards the SW Victorian coast. Keep an eye on the cold air field as it moves our way.
20-11-08, Thursday 9am:The BoM have now issued a non-scheduled update for the Saturday system, now putting the chance of snow in the forecasts for the central tablelands. It would most likely occur above 1200 metres on the Oberon Plateau but because the upper level temps are so cold (potentially) with this system, we could well see some nice hail and sleet in Blackheath. Its a very solid looking system for late November. On paper the strongest in more than a decade (or two!) but lets see what happens in real-time as the day approaches.
19-11-08, Wednesday 6:30pm: We should see showers and storms developing tonight and overnight in the upper mountains with some quite good totals possible if you are under a storm. The weekend event looks particularly good for some sleet and maybe snow on the Oberon Plateau and as an outside chance we could even see some sleet in the upper Blue Mountains.
18-11-08, Tuesday 7pm: For tomorrow, the MesoLAPS forecasting model shows handy rain right across NSW but perhaps the best falls will be in NE NSW and SE Qld. Thursday might be the day it really goes off in NSW, especially central and eastern parts. Should be interesting. Now to things cold and icy; the 00z ECMWF model (What the BoM posts as its daily charts) has a fine looking surface low and upper low combining to really bring a strong blow to SE states around Saturday. At this stage the strongest winds and rain will be for Tassie and Vic with snow on the alps a pretty good chance. Further north, there is a moderate chance of snow above 1200M on the Central Ranges of NSW. Sydney at this stage will only see wind and some shower activity but that could change as this event gets closer. There certainly is a real chance of sleet or snow for the Oberon Plateau by later on Saturday. I'd rate sleet or wet snow about a 25% chance above 1200 metres at this time and probably cold rain or even hail for elevations lower than that. Stay tuned for updates as this cold outbreak gets closer.
18-11-08, Tuesday 12:35pm Well, the systems developing over the next week are interesting indeed. A broad area of low pressure will cover most of NSW on Wednesday and Thursday bringing rain and storms and then by around Saturday/Sunday a strong spring cold front looks to be moving NE. This could bring small hail or even sleet/snow to the highest areas of the central tablelands. Stay tuned for the Saturday event, I will analyse it more as it approaches. Fingers crossed it stays solid on the charts.
16-11-08, Sunday 9am: Well, after a bit of a slow period weatherwise we are looking at some more 'troughy' weather over the next week which should bring more rain and showers. Today and tomorrow look okay albeit cloudy and possibly drizzly but after that storms look a little more likely across our region. Just where the focal point of these storms will be, should become clearer in the charts by later tomorrow.
22-10-08, Wednesday 4pm We've had intermittant hail showers since 9am in Blackheath but no more sleet or snow. Wintry hail and soft hail often gets called sleet but its not the same phenomenon. Sleet in Australia is a combination of pure snow flakes and rain. There is a moderately good chance of more hail this afternoon and evening and maybe even some sleet and snow as it cools down this evening but a settling of snow is highly unlikely. Very faintly possible, but unlikely. See this link for a reminder on the different types of frozen precipitation.
22-10-08, Wednesday 8:30am Good morning all cold weather lovers. It has been snowing, snow pelleting, hailing and sleeting off and on here since about 5am with a light cover on the ground which is now melting. At present it is just drizzling with a bit of ice in the showers. It started hailing and snow pelleting at around 5am and pretty much continued to do that until around 6am. At around that time it started sleeting and soon turned to snow as cold air, thunder-cells passed over the upper Blue Mountains. It really snowed quite heavily under some of those thunder-cells and at one time it was snowing for over half an hour but then turned back to sleet until the next thunder-cell approached. As these cells passed over us, the temp dropped to below 1C but never quite reached zero so only light, slushy settling occured. Someone from Blackheath rang 702 radio and said it was -2C but it certainly wasn't that cold in my Stevenson Screen, never going below about 0.6C there. It should probably back off now as the airmass gradually stabilises and cold drizzle and wind will persist at times today. Still, what an amazing event for late October. Turns out the only computer forecasting model that indicated it would be this cold was right.
21-10-08, Tuesday 8pm: I don't get to say this too often in late October but there is a chance of some snowflakes across the Oberon Plateau by tomorrow morning. At this stage it would be above 1200 metres and more so on the eastern side of the ranges there in places like Mt Trickett but Shooters Hill could see something too. It will probably be too mild across the upper Blue Mountains for any icy precip although we could see some sleet if we are lucky. Keep your eye on the sky tomorrow morning.
20-10-08, Monday 6pm: A nice, short and sharp little storm went red on radar just before 6:00pm today. The storm hit just north of Blackheath and pretty much passed right over the top of the Mount Boyce AWS, which might explain why it isn't giving a reading at the time of this report. Actually, the best hail drifts were at Mt Boyce Lookout (The proper one) and just before Browntown Oval, which is a fraction NW of the AWS.
It sounded and felt like a very, very long freight train moving over our level crossing, as it just kept roaring and vibrating its way over the ridge to my north. You could here it hitting everything in its path. Didn't have time to inspect the damage in the settlement but I'd say the biggest stones were at least 4cm and there were many of them, so car damage would be likely. There was also plenty of smaller stones in the 1 to 3cm range. These sizes were observed about half an hour after they had fallen. Picture of the hail here.
19-10-08, Sunday 8am: Storms are about a 25% to 30% chance this afternoon in the upper Blue Mountains. Steering winds in the mid levels are not that great so storms will mostly be of the 'pulse' variety and should remain fairly short lived. There's always the chance of something isolated developing and being a bit stronger than the charts suggest so be warned. Keep an eye on developments for around Wednesday next week too. There is potential for some quite chilly, wet and windy weather at this time as a possible east coast low develops or at least a trough and strong ridging high. There may even be a bit of wintry hail or a few snow flakes above about 1200 metres on the Oberon Plateau. The charts by Monday night should consolidate and show us the most likely outcome by that time.
13-10-08, Monday 9am: A trough and associated cold front will interact today and tomorrow to bring storms and shower activity to our general area. As usual, convective activity is hit and miss so some areas will see good storms/showers and others may miss out. Some rainfall totals could be significant during the next two days. Keep in touch with the latest warnings in case any of these storms become severe. Don't park you car under gum trees today or tomorrow, if at all possible.
7-10-08, Tuesday 2pm: It snowed overnight at Sunny Corner for around 30 minutes at 10pm, which is pretty good for October - flakes fell with the temp between 1C and 2C so no settling. Only a few light showers in Blackheath yesterday with the passage of the front but it did get down to 0.2C this morning at my home office screen with a frost. A total of 22.3mm has fallen in my gauge since the onset of the trough on Thursday. One of the better starts to spring I have seen up here. Its very green and the colours are out in full swing. Another funnell web was spotted crawling across the road on the weekend. Here's a couple of funnel webs from two seasons ago, perhaps the most prolific breeding season I've seen here.
4-10-08, Saturday 2pm: A cold front due around Monday/Tuesday looks to have weakened a little at this stage for this far north but should bring snow to the Snowies and Tassie. In the mean-time, we have had around 18mm in my home office gauge since the shower activity began last night. A nice lightning show lit up the northern sky last night and then at lunch-time today we had some more handy shower activity. There could well be more to come today. No hail observed thus far although winds have been fresh at times during the storms. Our town is looking particularly green at present and there are lots of spring buds around. Its getting quite colourful. Not to mention the croaking frogs everywhere and the odd funnel web too.
1-10-08, Wednesday 9pm: A quite strong front looks to be heading our way by later on Monday or into Tuesday. Areas above 1200 metres on the CT could see a few snow flurries. More details over coming days.
24-9-08, Wednesday 6pm: Just went for a cycle down to this spot. That is an older photo but it was flowing just as nicely today after recent rain. Generally fine weather should prevail all week although there is about a 30% chance of some cloud or weak shower activity as we move into the weekend.
23-9-08, Tuesday 7:00am: 7mm in my gauge, for the 22 hours to 7am this morning from this event, so far. There might be more showers throughout the morning but they will gradually ease. After that, we should see increasing sunshine this week.
22-9-08, Monday 7:30am: A trough could bring thunderstorms this afternoon as well as showers following that from a cold front. The storm activity could well be a bit further north of us but keep an eye on any warnings, in case storms develop across the ranges.
16-9-08, Tuesday 8am: We certainly seemed to have stronger winds overnight than Mt Boyce AWS is showing. Although the winds did swing a touch more north at around 7pm last night, so they may just have been getting into our area more effectively. It also got a fair bit colder than predicted with a min of 1.5C here this morning but no rain. Nice to see snow in the village at Thredbo and a good fresh cover across the ranges. BTW, the storm that came through on Sunday appears to have knocked down a brick and mortar wall from the original Bank Managers building here in town - built around 1950. The gusts on that day were approaching 100km/r locally. Any confirmation would be welcome.
14-9-08, Sunday 5:40pm: Storms moved through early this morning and brought some thunder and lightning and 9mm in the gauge to 9am. More showers passed through Blackheath during the day but the storm this afternoon at around 4pm was impressive indeed. Some excellent cloud to ground lightning strikes that shook the house and hail to 1cm and strong winds gusting to over 90km/r. Another 18mm since 9am this morning, so far. It was certainly one of the strongest storms I've seen in September in recent years. Apparently the Parkes area had large hail stones (yet to be confirmed) and other places had intense storms as well. Large hail stones are not common in September.
13-9-08, Saturday 9am: There is a moderate chance of a storm later today as instability is enhanced. Winds will pick up as the day does on. Tomorrow is likely to be windy and overcast with the possibility of showers at times. Keep away from gum trees this weekend as it will get pretty blowy.
11-9-08, Thursday 8:45am: A heavy frost again today with -1.5C in my screen. For the next few days, temps will now be getting milder as pre frontal weather establishes ifself. Cloud will gradually increase today and there is a slight chance of showers tomorrow with an increasing chance of showers into the weekend, especially on Sunday. It will get quite windy over the weekend as well.
10-9-08, Wednesday 7:15am: A heavy frost today, especially for September. -1C in my yard and it would have been colder than that in the best cold pool areas nearby. The mornings as well as the days in general, will be getting warmer by about Thursday.
7-9-08, Sunday 6:30pm: Another 8.6mm to 9am today in the home office gauge but nothing from 9am to 6pm today. Tomorrow should see a cool change as a high moves east and directs southerly winds along the NSW coast. The Blue Mountains could see some light showers or drizzle but nothing like we've had over the last few days. It will be chilly on Tuesday morning though with a moderate chance of frosts in lower lying areas. It looks to warm up for the rest of the week, and could get into the mid teens by Thursday. Friday/Saturday could see some shower activity at this stage.
6-9-08, Saturday 2pm: Since 9am yesterday to 9am today we've had another 41mm from this rain event in my home office gauge. There's also about 8mm in the gauge since 9am today. That's approximately 71mm since this event started on Tuesday. The offical Mt Boyce weather station has recorded 89.6mm to 9am today plus a few mm in the gauge since 9am. Its not unusual to have differences in measurements during shower activity. We could see more shower activity today although by tomorrow the low will be moving further eastwards and a clearing pattern will develop. Some warmer weather looks to finally break through by around the middle of next week followed by possible frontal weather bringing snow to the ski fields after that.
5-9-08, Friday 10:45am: Another 6.8mm for the twenty four hours to 9am today from my home office gauge. We've also had around 8mm since 9am today with some moderately heavy showers. That's 30.3mm so far from this event. The heaviest rain and shower activity will probably be throughout today and it should gradually ease by later tonight and into tomorrow. Coastal lows are a little unpredictable as Ellie Spark said on 702 ABC radio yesterday so keep an eye on the sat pic for the latest developments. Sunday should be generally fine at this stage as the low looks to be gradually moving east over the Tasman by then. Gardening, tennis and other outdoor activities are looking moderately good by Sunday. Until then, stay in the office or get out a scrabble board or something...;-)
4-9-08, Thursday 9:10am: 14.3mm in my home office gauge to 9am this morning for the twenty four hours since 9am yesterday. Mt Boyce picked up even more at 20.2mm. It looks like the heaviest shower activity will be north of us over the next two to three days although we should pick up some nice streaming showers.
3-9-08, Wednesday 3:30pm: Some nice shower activity in Blackheath this afternoon with around 5mm since 9am at Mt Boyce. We will have to see how far south the low/trough moves but prospects are looking relatively good for more showers over the next couple of days. We even had some hail (5mm in size) for five minutes at around midday. Keep an eye on the Kurnell radar as its probably the best radar for coastal systems - seems to pick up activity better.
2-9-08, Tuesday 6pm: Here's some August figures for you. Mt Boyce recorded its coldest August for minimums (1.2C) and maximums (9.2C) for twelve years although this site is relatively new and only has a short observation history. Sydney has seen its coldest August since 1944. Overnight temps in Sydney were the coldest since 1951 and day-time temps were the coldest since 1989. Combining the average minimum and maximum temps, Sydney has seen its coldest August in 64 years. Global Warming isn't quite the straight forward phenomenon that the media sometimes wants us to believe. I like the term Climate Change more than Global Warming anyway as its more indicative of what is really happening. Mt Boyce rainfall for the month was 33mm which is 25.2mm below the average. Six sleet/snow days were observed but settling was never observed beyond about 0.5cm. There were some excellent snow showers during the month, see the links above for more details.
31-8-08, Sunday: Over 15mm from the rain overnight in my home office gauge. A very welcome fall for all of the locals suffering from allergy problems this month. The colder and drier than usual air has really brought on the pollen. This rain should clear the air a little. We even heard our first pobblebonk frog last night in the pond and the fish are out feeding for the first time in many weeks.
25-8-08, Monday: This week should be a bit milder than the last few weeks. This August has seen possible record breaking chill in the upper Blue Mountains with minimums and maximums well down on average. Both minimums and maximums should warm a little over the next week with no major cold outbreaks around. It will be chilly mid week but nothing too strong. We may not have had a lot of settled snow in Blackheath this year but we have recorded around twelve days of snow falling since April which is higher than almost any year in the last decade or more.
12-8-08, Tuesday: If you think August has been cold, then you are right. We are currently running at about 3C below average for minimums and around 4C below for maximums. Its not that unusual to still be a bit below the average by mid month as the warmest part of August is usually the last two weeks but to be so far below average is impressively cold. We've actually had four snow days this month in Blackheath but sadly not a lot of settling. Other towns like Guyra to our north and Oberon and Orange to our west have done well with at least a few settled falls this year.
23-7-08, Wednesay 5:35pm: The last two mornings in Blackheath have seen very solid frosts with -3.1C today and -2.9C yesterday morning at my site. My pond froze over on both mornings. In places like 'Frog Hollow' on the western side of town, it could have got down to -5C on both of those nights as the cold air settles there and doesn't drain away as readily overnight. Mt Boyce AWS hasn't recorded temps as cold as my home office site as its on the edge of the escarpment and not in a great position to record very low temperatures overnight, unless of course there is a strong cold front around with snow etc. On cold, still nights, colder temperatures will occur in Blackheath near the local oval where cold air pools readily as well as 'Frog Hollow' and at the bottom of Mt Blackheath etc. Feel free to let me know if you have recorded very cold temps at your place as its interesting to compare. Remember, we are talking about the official temperature about one metre above the ground, not the grass or ground temperature.
21-7-08, Monday 5pm: After June officially recorded 134.6mm (Mt Boyce AWS figures) we have seen quite the opposite in July with just 24.8mm (my rain gauge). June was quite mild for minimums (more than 1C above average) thanks to the amount of rain we had, keeping the frosts away and the day time temperatures were close to average at 10.5C. July so far has seen the minimum temp hover around the long term average and the same for the maximum temps. Cold fronts have not been that strong this season, in spite of the promising early signs in April when lovely snow showers fell. Even the ski fields had a late start with average snow depth still not very high although it is looking pretty nice down there now. Its always hard to predict just how good a snow season will be, especially in the Blue Mountains, where everything has to be just about perfect for snow to fall. The main thing that saves us up this way is our altitude as we are not in a prime position, compared to Oberon, to get fairly regular snowfalls, although as we know, we can have snowy winters at times. There should be some more rain in July to boost our totals and a bit of snow is also a reasonable chance before the end of the month, so lets cross our fingers.
9-6-08, Monday 3pm: 91.1mm has fallen in my home office gauge to 9am this morning, since the start of June. Quite an impressive outcome considering how dry May was. The Sea Surface Anomalies are improving to a warming trend at present and you can see that in this link. There are still some cool anomalies at the time of writing to the east of Australia in the Tasman and also SE of Tassie which are encouraging surface high pressure to settle there. Hopefully these SST anomalies will break down soon to allow more typical frontal activity to reach the SE. Of course, regardless of conducive SST anomalies, you also need weathers systems to be developing, to take advantage of them. A Long Wave Trough (upper level surges of cold air that circle the globe) should hopefully move over Australia soon and this tends to encourage strong frontal patterns. Then of course, there is the chaotic factor that always leaves forecasters scratching their heads, hopefully in wonder and not in disappointment!
4-6-08, Wednesday 11:15am: 56.3mm has fallen in my home office gauge to 9am this morning, since this east coast event started on Sunday afternoon. Of course, exactly where heavier falls occur today and to a lesser extent tomorrow will depend on how the low develops into today. We certainly could get more heavy showers here today and tonight. Sea surface temperatures are becoming warmer in a largish pool off the Sydney coast which is helping this low develop. Further east of this warm body of water, the sea surface temps are still quite cool which is making it hard for cold fronts to move our way as high pressure systems are lingering there.
1-6-08, Sunday 4:35pm: Showers should gradually increase by Tuesday with this system. We could possibly see moderate to heavy showers as the week moves on but that will be dependent on the positioning of the low/trough. At the very least it should be quite damp for the next few days, possibly longer.
31-5-08, Saturday 10:30am: Well, after my previous paragraph, it seems like we could be in for some prolonged shower activity on the east coast of Oz but just how far south this system moves is the discussion point at present. That body of warming water off the coast of Sydney coupled with the upper trough could spark decent shower activity over the Blue Mountains as we move into the new week. Forecast models are unclear on the exact setup at present so the most likely outcome is still about one or two days away in the charts. We should know by Sunday night or Monday morning, as to what this system is likely to do.
27-5-08, Tuesday: It seems that we could be in for a lower than average rainfall pattern for this winter if Sea Surface Temps stay colder than average. We will have to wait and see but a dryish winter with cold mornings looks the mostly likely outcome at this stage. Of course, there will be days of light, showery weather but large rainfall totals are less likely this winter from my perspective unless we see a significant change to warmer SST anomalies. This doesn't mean that we will see no snow of course, as a strong cold front can deliver a few cm of snow even if that doesn't translate to much in the rain gauge. The main thing we need to watch for at present is the breaking down of the usual blocking high patterns that occur in early winter. We need them to weaken to allow fronts through. In the meantime, have a look at this interesting article from sciencedaily.com.
13-5-08, Tuesday 8:30am: Chances are improving of seeing some snow across the Oberon plateau by next Saturday or Sunday and perhaps some snow showers in the upper Blue Mountains. We are just waiting for one or two of the main forecasting models to agree on the timing and strength of this outbreak. Should know by Thursday some time if this event will eventuate.
10-5-08, Saturday 9:30am: Upper level patterns suggest another strong cold front is possible within the next two weeks. The upper level Long Wave Trough predictions suggest a strong surge of cold air around this time but the forecasting models are struggling to interpret this feature as it applies to surface weather patterns at the moment. So, we will have to wait and see for at least another few days, as to whether this front will be strong enough to make it this far north. NB: The volcanic activity in Southern America is becoming quite strong and may also impact on our winter this year by making it cooler than average but that is also not completely clear as yet. Scientists are determining the impacts of this volcano at the present time.
NB: Thanks to those that sent snow photos through. Its always much appreciated, some of them are now uploaded to this Winter 2008 link. You can also view these via the photos link in the menu above. And don't forget to view the 'Chase Reports' link in the menu above too. Such an early start this year!
Update, 5:30pm, 28-4-08: Perhaps the final round of moderately intense sleet and snow occured from about 5pm to 5:20pm here in Blackheath. There could be a bit more but gradually now into the evening the upper temps will warm and the instability will decrease as a result. What a day though, Katoomba could also break its all-time coldest April day record. We will have to see but its looking pretty good at this stage.
Update, 3:20pm, 28-4-08: Another excellent little snowfall at about 2:45pm that lasted for about twenty minutes at the home office but hardly settled as the temp was around 1C. At various points it was almost as heavy as anything you would see in winter. Quite extaordinary.
Update, 2:25pm, 28-4-08: More lovely snow flurries at about 2:10pm that lasted for five minutes. Big thick flakes that covered the sky. This air mass is very cold, not a lot of moisture with it at present but at the 500hPa level its -32C, -12C at 700hPa and about -2C at 850hPa, that is going off the Wagga weather balloon sounding earlier today. I've never seen an air mass that cold in the last ten years or so for April. There could be more snow showers soon and into the evening.
Update, 1:30pm, 28-4-08: Well, we have snow in Blackheath! It only lasted five to ten minutes from about 1:05pm but it was snow nonetheless! Mt Boyce shows the temp at 2.5C at 1pm but it was colder than that here in Blackheath under the cell that produced those snow showers. The relatively dry air at the time also helped the flakes survive in air temps above freezing, this is called the evaporative cooling effect. There are some more showers on the way that could reach us, fingers crossed they bring snow not rain...its touch and go.
Update, 8:45am: There are now some cold air field, convective showers on the sat loop moving towards the Central Tablelands, keep an eye on these today. They will more likely bring snow/sleet or hail for the Oberon Plateau but Blackheath could get lucky.
28-4-08, Monday 8:20am: The lowest temp so far this morning was about 1.5C at 7am with very tiny, spitty precip but no sleet or hail at this time. Wet snow occured at Sunny Corner (The higher ground towards Bathurst) early this morning and there has also been fine sleet and hail there this morning. Whilst its cold at the surface, the cold upper level air is not around this morning to any notable extent so snow in Blackheath is unlikely now but still very slightly possible. Obs here show that it looks to have possibly sleeted between 2am and 3am from what I can tell. Looking at the RH reading at the time at Mt Boyce AWS, shows there could have been a few flakes during this period. 4.9mm since 9am yesterday here at home and currently a fresh breeze and a thin 8/8, low level cover of cloud. It will be interesting to see how cold the day remains. I wasn't surprised to see the min temp go lower than the BoM forecast as I had mentioned this in earlier posts here.
8am today, nice snow flurry at Sunny Corner - click here. - courtesy of 'snowmi' from Weatherzone forums.
27-4-08, Sunday 6pm: This system is very cold but its touch and go whether the coldest air and snow will make it to Blackheath. The Mt Gambier sounding showed the air mass to be -31C at 500hPa, -12C at 700hPa and -2C at 850hPa, that is very cold even for winter so its impressive indeed. Its slowly moving this way and you can see it in the middle of NSW via the sat loop as I type. Snow is still fairly likely over the Oberon plateau late tonight or into early tomorrow and its about a 20% chance for Blackheath by daybreak tomorrow. Family and work commitments prevent me from posting much more at present but fingers crossed for a few flakes.
26-4-08, Saturday 6:30pm: Well, from memory it certainly seems to be the best looking event in April I've observed since internet, weather watching evolved. Have a look at that cold air field on the satellite loop! I'm still a bit disappointed in the upper winds not being very southerly but that is being picky as this system is very good for this time of year. Its hard to realise that its April and not June when this type of event would usually happen.
If the MLAPs forecasting model holds true, we could see nice snow showers here in Blackheath and even a possible settling by early Monday morning. I'd rate snow showers now as a 30% chance and settling snow about a 10% to 15% chance. Its certainly occured in these setups before but it will be touch and go of course for Blackheath as we are downwind of the Oberon Plateau in this sort of event, so most of the moisture is gone by the time systems make it to us. Those cold upper temperatures need to make it this far north for snow to happen (aided by decent upper level winds) otherwise the best of this system will blow out to sea to our south before it gets to us. To sum up, a 30% chance of seeing snow flurries in Blackheath by Monday morning early and a 10% to 15% chance of seeing settling snow, not a bad percentage though for April.
26-4-08, Saturday 8:30am: Not much time this morning for a detailed update, so I will do that later today but its looking even a bit better now, going off the current charts. The main areas that will see snow showers by very late Sunday or early Monday are places out Oberon way above 1000 to 1100 metres but Blackheath might see some flurries if the cold air slides across. We wont get much here in Blackheath at this stage but nice snow flurries are about a 25% chance. More updates from me later today.
25-4-08, Friday 5:20pm (update): You can clearly see this approaching cold front now on the satellite loop, quite impressive. By tomorrow some time, I should be able to get a handle on how cold it actually is in real-time via the weather balloon soundings. I would now rate it about a 10% to 20% chance of seeing snow flurries in Blackheath by very late Sunday or early Monday morning. Don't be fooled by the minimum forecast of 5C for Katoomba on Monday though because if the cold air slides across from the Oberon area, we could get some surprise snow flurries. The more likely outcome though would be for Oberon to see snow showers and places like Shooters Hill even more so.
The upper level winds look to remain quite westerly at our lattitude which doesn't help the cold air get transported up this way for any length of time. We need those upper winds at the 300hPa level to be more southerly so cold air from the southern lattitudes can feed into this system and keep it unstable and produce decent snow but that is a hard ask in April. With this particular system, the Oberon Plateau area is more exposed to these cold south westerlies and they should see some snow out that way at this stage and even Orange could see something. The ski fields should also do quite well by Monday.
24-4-08, Thursday 8:30am: There does seem to be general agreement now with most of the forecasting models suggesting this approaching cold front will pass just to our south. The upper (300hPa) winds are pretty westerly now as this system moves across the SE (We need them to be much more southerly) and this reduces the amount of cold air introduced and re-introduced into this system from the south as it heads our way.
Still, the bullish forecaster in me (the bear is still there too) suggests that it wouldn't take much change for this system to give us something this far north but it would be short lived if the upper winds stay more westerly as they are forecast to be.
I am keeping an eye on that trough/low off the east coast of NSW at the moment. It will probably be gone or weakening at least by the time this cold front approaches on Sunday/Monday but I am just wondering how its presence today and tomorrow will influence the forecasting models by tonight. So, probably no snow for the Blue Mountains out of this front on Sunday/Monday but Oberon or higher areas south of it might see a flake or two. Things can change quickly to a more positive and snowy outcome though, so lets wait and see what the charts say in a day or two.
21-4-08, Monday 8:30am: A quite strong cold front is predicted by the forecasting models to reach the Blue Mountains by around Sunday the 27th of April. This could potentially bring snow to the Oberon Plateau and maybe a few flakes in the Blue Mountains but its very early days and anything could happen at this stage. Once we get within 48 hours of the actual event, we will have a clearer picture of its potential. Due to family circumstances, I am not able to post too often at the moment but if this front looks the goods by later in the week, I will endeavour to make another post or two.
2-4-08, Wednesday Midday: This approaching front is looking quite strong for early April. There should be some snow across the ski fields later today and by early tomorrow. There is still a slight chance that some sleet or snow could make it to Shooters Hill (see map above) later tonight or early tomorrow. Keep an eye on the IR satellite loop to see if any cold air convective cells make it this far north. Even if its cold enough at the surface out at Shooters Hill this will not give us much icy precip at all unless the upper level temps are particularly cold as well, to create instability. Fingers crossed. The upper Blue Mountains will probably only see cloud increasing with the chance of light spitty rain at best but of course there is a very slight chance we could see snow but its unlikely at this stage. I will update this outlook if time permits.
31-3-08, Monday 9am: Probably not worthy of a detailed analysis just yet but there is a slight chance of a flurry or two over the highest parts of the CT come late Wednesday. I'm talking about areas around Oberon, not the Blue Mountains as such.
Spots above 1200 to 1300 on the Oberon Plateau could see some light sleet or soggy snow but its hard to get much more than that at this time of the year. Forecasting model charts like the GFS upper level charts show us why with most of the cold air and instability staying well south of here. Don't expect to see cold air Cbs dropping snow across the backs of shivering sheep up here, more like weakish, de-activating strato-cumulus clouds with the odd flake at best at this stage.
As usual though, the vagaries of real-time system development will fill in the details beyond model resolution as we move along. I'll try and fill in any details as they come to hand, if time permits, as I am particuarly busy at present.
22-3-08, Saturday Midday: The link below has an interesting article on global warming or the lack of it in recent years, according to Jennifer Marohasy, a biologist and senior fellow with the Institute of Public Affairs. She states, when asked about Global warming in recent years: "No, actually, there has been cooling, if you take 1998 as your point of reference. If you take 2002 as your point of reference, then temperatures have plateaued. This is certainly not what you'd expect if carbon dioxide is driving temperature because carbon dioxide levels have been increasing but temperatures have actually been coming down over the last 10 years." Read more for yourself here
7-3-08, Friday Midday: The chance of storms later today has now increased to about 40%. A developing trough could produce some storms across the mountains by afternoon or evening. With a fairly unstable atmosphere and dry mid levels, hail could be a feature. Keep an eye on the latest warnings.
6-3-08, Thursday 8pm: Its amazing how we humans are so easily influenced by the weather. After our particularly chilly February many folk have been saying that an early winter is on the way. In reality, that was never really much of a chance, well certainly not in March anyway. Nature blessed us this week with some lovely days that has taken our maximum temps just above average for the first six days of March. Its now possible that the next two weeks wont see too much rain at all and Sydney could well see temps stay in the high twenties to low thirties for a week or more. The upper mountains should stay in the low to mid twenties for the next week with just the chance of a shower on the odd occasion throughout the week.
29-2-08, Friday 8:30pm: Well, it appears Katoomba has broken its all time record for February minimums with a 3.9C this morning. The previous record was 4.1 set in 1996 on the 13th. With 73 years of records for temperatures, that is pretty impressive in a world where 'Global Warming seems to be the only description of climate these days. Mount Boyce's record for Feb is -0.7C so we got no-where near that but this record seems incorrect. I will look into this further as time permits.
29-2-08, Friday 8:30am: 3.5C at my station early this morning, that is pretty impressive chill for this time of the year. Not quite a record (although the jury is still out on that) as we may have had a few colder, late February days over the decades but most of those would have been on calm, clear nights. Considering that last night was breezy and cloudy, it was an impressive cold summers night for sure. Its much harder to get chilly temps in summer when there is a fresh wind blowing and overcast conditions.
27-2-08, Wednesday 11am: Some intense storms hit the Blue Mountains yesterday thanks to a significant upper trough moving through. This enhanced surface instability and produced a nasty storm in the Bilpin area. Hail was intense there and covered the roads for a time, causing damage to orchards in this region. Hail size was up to 3cm, so it was the intensity rather than the size of the hail that appears to have done the damage. Further storms could occur today as the atmosphere is particularly unstable. Keep an eye on the warnings link on the main page as the day progresses.
26-2-08, Tuesday 10:30am: Well, finally a bit of warmth over the weekend and Monday to bring back those very cool average temps just a little. Still, numerous stations across the state are running notably below average for maximum temps for the month and to a lesser extent minimums. Some of these sites could well produce all time records for low maximum temps. Of course, these records only go back decades, not hundreds of years so they should all be viewed in that context.
Many folk have been asking me if winter is going to be cold. Its always hard to say at this time of the year and a chilly summer is not statistically connected to a very cold winter. Ken Ring, a somewhat controversial figure in the weather world, is suggesting a cold, snowy winter for the SE of Australia with snowfalls starting in April and persisting into December. Ken's approach is quite different to conventional methods and a careful study of his predictions produces more questions for me than answers. Verification methods by some reputable meteorologists have shown that Ken's approach is basically the same as guessing. Considerable time has been spent studying Ken's approach and there just isn't any clear indication that his methods are sound. Still, in fairness to Ken, the idea of cycles in the weather has validity of course but to suggest the moon has such intimate and predictable connections with our weather is questionable in my opinion. Type 'Predict Weather' and 'Ken Ring' into Google if you are interested in reading more about Ken. You can also head over to ski.com.au and read a thorough review of Ken's methodology; type 'Ken Ring' into the search function of the forums there and read the views of forum member 'Conservative Forecaster', a well respected and very well researched meteorologist.
The best winters for snow seem to be the ones with a SOI around neutral (although, consistently low to medium positive readings are my favourite) but you don't want readings too high as this can produce more rain than snow. Sea surface temperature anomalies in the Bight and south of there are also important in my opinion. You want them to be around average. Too warm to the south of Australia and lows may form there rather than into the Bight. If SST anomalies are too warm SW of Perth this can also produce lows near the SW of the continent rather than over the SE of Oz. Of course, we first need cold pools of air to reach north into Australia to interact with sea surface temps before we get any decent fronts. Don't let anyone fool you into believing this next winter will be a very snowy and cold one. Winters are just too fickle in Australia to reliably predict. We will have a rough idea by later in May but sadly that is about as good as it gets.
13-2-08, Wednesday 4:30pm: If you are wondering where summer has gone, you are not the only one. Presently in Blackheath we are running around 4.5C below average for maximums in February although minimums are only one degree below normal. You could argue that lower than average maximum temps are more noticeable than chilly minimum temps as they persist throughout the waking hours. The rain has certainly been a factor but there has also been plenty of cloudiness and onshore coolness. December and January were also mild and a little below average but not as much as February. Katoomba values are similar to Blackheath for Feb and for the rest of summer as well.
Even Sydney has had notably mild weather for summer with the most significant impact in the west, where hot to very hot days have been rare. Penrith for example has hardly had a day in the mid to high thirties all summer and they are running at around 5C below average for maximum temps for February. Quite extraordinary. If you have a look at the SST link under Forecasting Material on the main page, you will see that the SST have been notably warmer than average across the east coast. This tends to encourage cloudiness and precipitation across the east coast, which will be exacerbated if there is instability like a trough or low near the coast. I would like to think there could still be some hot weather this month or into early March but average max temps naturally start to drop off now as we slide towards autumn, so the chances are not too high for any major heat waves.
There are calls that such a cool summer will bring a cold winter but the two are not usually related. At this stage the La Nina pattern we are currently in should continue for at least a couple of months and it could indeed persist into winter. It would be nice for it to weaken a little by winter as strong La Ninas tend to bring plenty of rain but less snow, which is not what the ski fields want after last year.
8-2-08, Friday 2pm: Some quite heavy bursts of shower activity last evening produced 22.5mm to 9am today in my gauge with Mount Boyce only getting 14.2mm. Various spots in Sydney were also hit with even more impressive storms as the southerly change interacted with the upper trough. Check out this dangerously close lightning footage from YouTube below, taken by our friends at East Coast Storms. Filming and photographing storms can be a dangerous exercise, so unless you know what you are doing, take cover instead. Here's the YouTube Lightning Strike Footage. Don't have your speakers turned up too loud and the strike hits at 44 seconds into the video, so be prepared! I've experienced this sort of thing myself a few times, very frightening.
6-2-08, Wednesday 8:45am: Severe storm potential is certainly there for us today although areas further north are the greater chance of this. If you have a look at the BoM sat loop you will see the interplay between the surface trough and upper trough already, which is impressive for this time of the day. Usually it takes a bit longer into the day for things to kick into gear as more heat is introduced into the equation. That upper trough is significant! Hail, possibly large, and also damaging winds could be a feature in SE QLD and NE NSW. The Blue Mountains could also cop it later on today so take all the usual precautions when severe weather is potentially there. I'd say about a 40 to 50% chance of storms for our area later and about a 20% chance of a severe storm, ie: hail larger than 2cm, winds over 90kph and flash flooding.
4-2-08, Monday 6pm: Some very good rain in the last 24 hours with more than 50mm from my gauge. Blackheath tends to get more rainfall than Mount Boyce AWS in these conditions as the escarpment to our east will force the moist air up and over the township. This then concentrates and enhances uplift, which will bring heavier rainfall to town, especially to areas closest to the Grose Valley. It could get even heavier tonight with a low pressure system likely to develop off the coast. Depending on exactly how and where it moves overnight will be reflected in local rainfall totals overnight and into tomorrow. Thanks to the steady trickle of 'hello' emails I've received over recent weeks, its always appreciated. :-)
31-1-08, Thursday 8:30am: A number of storms converged on Blackheath at around 4pm yesterday. I'm not sure I've ever seen mammatus cloud coming in from so many directions as I did yesterday. Huge anvils were rolling in from the SW, W and NW and with them came some strong cloud to ground lightning strikes. A blackout occured in town for around three hours before power was restored around 7:15pm. No hail of note was evident and only 9.5mm was recorded in my gauge. Other areas may have had much more intense activity, please let me know if you heard of more severe storms in the area as its always good to record such things.
We have a very unstable atmosphere again today and with the slightly stronger mid level winds, we could see more widespread severe storms today. The Sydney basin has a better chance of seeing something this afternoon. Heavy showers, strong winds and hail could all be features this afternoon so be prepared; unplug as many electrical items as possible if you are away from the home or office this afternoon.
29-1-08, Tuesday 6:30pm: A quite powerful storm hit Blackheath at around 4pm today. Hail to 2cm in size (but mostly 1 to 1.5cm) fell quite intensely although it melted fairly fast thanks to the short, powerful bursts of rain. Some wonderful cloud to cloud and cloud to ground lightning occured and 13mm was recorded in my gauge in southern Blackeath during the storm. The upper levels weren't very cold at all but surface temps were quite high (near 30C) so this helped produce good instability. It seems Mount Boyce AWS recorded nothing at all. This may have been due to a problem with hail in the tipping bucket but more likely because the storm came in from the SW and moved NE, missing Mt Boyce altogether. It could get stormy again tomorrow but Thursday at this stage is looking more promising and indeed could produce severe storms.
29-1-08, Tuesday 9:30am: There is about a 50% to 60% chance of more rainfall in the form of storms by around Thursday for the Blue Mountains. Severe storms could also occur at this time but that will become clearer by Thursday morning, when the weather balloon, upper air sounding is available. There is also about a 20% to 30% chance that an isolated storm may pop up later today, a bit like yesterdays storm to our north.
14-1-08, Monday 9:10am: Some good storms passed over Blackheath yesterday afternoon and evening. Quite a few lightning strikes and some very close ones at that. No hail observed here except for a few small bits of ice now and then. My gauge in southern Blackheath recieved roughly double what the Mt Boyce AWS did, just a few kilometres to the north. 14.5mm to 9am this morning here with light drizzle continuing. There's a slight chance of more storms today but Wednesday looks the next good day at this stage.
2-1-08, Wednesday 8:15pm: Happy New Year to all those that visit Blackheath Weather! Well, I was a little off target with my predictions of cool to mild weather as it has been glorious of late. The complex low off the coast of QLD caused NE winds for our area rather than easterly or south easterly winds so it has been generally warm of late. Cloudiness and some drizzle or rain should gradually develop over coming days and maybe also some storms later in the peace. For those that are interested, our backyard pond has benefitted well from the good rains in November and December. There are roughly 200 eastern froglet tadpoles and hundreds of freshly laid pobblebonk eggs as well. There are also around 50 White Cloud Mountain Minnows from the orginal 10 put in the pond about two months ago. These little fish are good for ponds as they don't usually eat tadpoles or frog eggs but devour mosquito larvae. Of course, its always important to make sure your pond or dam has no drainage points into local creeks to prevent non native fish breeding locally.