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Polar plunge hits SE Australia: ‘Snow in places we’ve never seen it’

Thousands were left without power in Sydney’s east this afternoon after being lashed with strong winds, causing 130 electrical hazards as roofs were torn from homes and powerlines were dragged down.Winds of more than 100km/h were recorded across the city as Bondi, Bondi Beach and North Bondi were left without electricty from 1.40pm, affecting 1700…

Thousands were left without power in Sydney’s east this afternoon after being lashed with strong winds, causing 130 electrical hazards as roofs were torn from homes and powerlines were dragged down.

Winds of more than 100km/h were recorded across the city as Bondi, Bondi Beach and North Bondi were left without electricty from 1.40pm, affecting 1700 residents.

Power has since been restored in these areas.

It comes as the city was hit by the “polar surge” that rocked Australia’s south east today, bringing some of the coldest September temperatures for years and delivering snow to places that have never seen it before.

A severe weather warning is place for damaging winds of up to 90 km/h for the Illawarra and Southern Highlands to Sydney and the Central Coast.

“A strong cold front is bringing gusty winds to much of NSW today. Vigorous winds are expected to continue during Saturday in the front’s wake,” the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said.

Temperatures are also set to fall in Sydney and other parts of New South Wales as the system passes through.

Elsewhere, snow has fallen as low as just a few hundred meters above seal level as a “polar plunge” sweeps across south eastern Australia. It’s so cold, people have been seen skiing 200kms north of Adelaide.

“We have snow here in western Victoria in places that never or rarely have snow,” said one Victorian on Twitter.

Temperatures in Melbourne didn’t get into double figures until 10.30am on Friday morning with the day set to top out a just 12C.

Parts of Victoria may experience a September day that hasn’t been this chilly since the early 2000s.

The BOM has said Friday and Saturday temperatures will be so chilly it will feel more like mid-July than late-September.

A cold air mass brewed up from the Great Australian Bight on Thursday night and is now passing through Victoria and southern New South Wales.

Images have been posted online of snow falling close to Jamestown, Peterborough and Hallet in SA as well as on the lower slopes of Mt Elephant close to Lismore in Victoria, 170 km west of Melbourne. Lismore is only around 200 metres above sea level.

On Friday, the BOM labelled the weather event a “polar plunge” that could bring hail and thunder as seen as snow with maximums 5 – 10C below the average for this time of year.

Yet at the very same time as some parts of NSW could see snow, the north of the state is on bush fire watch. The SES has said there is “very high” fire danger for the coast from the Hunter to the Queensland border and inland to the northern slopes.

Sky News Weather meteorologist Alison Osborne said a “significant cold outbreak” was in progress.

“It’s usual to see this weather in midwinter. But heading towards late September it’s quite rare; in fact it hasn’t happened since 2002 in terms of the temperatures we’re expecting.”

Showers will be a feature in Adelaide on Friday with a minimum of just 14C before creeping back up 15C on Saturday. Dawn minimums could drop to just 7C.

Friday could see Melbourne’s chilliest September day since 2002 with highs of just 12C. Downpours could dump up to 15mm in the gauge. Minimums of 6 – 7C, and even when it warms up on the weekend it will likely only get to 14C.

Even colder inland, with Shepparton and Albury-Wodonga barely getting into double figures on Friday with possible hail.

Just 14C in Hobart on Friday giving way to a cold 12C on Saturday and a low of 5C.

Showers possible on Friday and Saturday. Possible snow on kunanyi/Mount Wellington where it could sink to -4C early on Sunday.

Rug up in Canberra where 10C is as good as it gets on Friday and not much better on Saturday. Overnight lows of near freezing and possibly below that on Sunday morning.

Heavy showers on Friday.

Not as chilly in Sydney, but still a drop in the mercury from the summer like days recently.

The 30C the Harbour City sweated through earlier this week will be but a memory on Sunday when 18C will be as good as it gets which will set a theme heading into next week. It will be cold at night dropping to 8C on weekend mornings.

On higher ground in NSW, snow is a real possibility. Late Friday and Saturday could see the white stuff falling on Katoomba, Lithgow, Oberon, Orange and the Southern Tablelands as well the Snowy Mountains.

Wagga Wagga, Deniliquin and Hay may not see snow but there will be midwinter maximums of just 11 – 12C and a possible storm on Friday.

In contrast, in the north of the sate, where the fire danger is, temperatures could reach 312C in Grafton.

Relatively toasty in Brisbane by comparison but southern Queensland will not be immune to the temperature drop. From a maximum of 30C on Friday to 24C by Monday, but it should remain dry.

A pretty steady 30C in Townsville for the next week. Dry and sunny with lows of 18-20C.

A splattering of rain as Darwin reaches the weekend with a possible storm on Friday and Saturday. Days should top out at 33C with lows of 24C.

A warm 24C in Perth on Friday with a possible morning storm. Down to 21C on Saturday with rain, some heavy. Showers should be lighter on Sunday.

That last gasp of winter should also ensure Alpine resorts get a good covering of powder this weekend too. Thredbo could see falls every day until Sunday with lows of -6C on Saturday morning.

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