Southern Australia shivers through its the coldest stretch of winter mornings in 47 years

The eight-day cold spell, with an average minimum temperature of minus 4.9, is the coldest string of July mornings since 1965 | Jul 9, 2012

by Christopher Knaus

Merle Hare, of Braddon, rugs up. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Canberra has shivered through its eighth straight freezing, frosty morning, the coldest stretch of winter mornings in 47 years.

The mercury dropped to a chilly minus 4.8 degrees at 6.51am this morning, topping off eight consecutive mornings below minus 2.3 degrees.

The eight-day cold spell, with an average minimum temperature of minus 4.9, is the coldest string of July mornings since 1965. The all-time record was in July 1962, when the average temperature over an eight-day period was minus 7.

Canberrans felt the worst of the cold on Wednesday, when temperatures fell to minus 6.1 degrees, 6 degrees colder than the long-term July average of minus 0.1.

Wednesday’s low is still far from the record July minimum of minus 10 degrees, recorded in 1971, but is just shy of the lowest temperature recorded this year, which was minus 6.3 degrees on June 20.

Despite the cold start to the month, the ACT will be given some respite from the cold over the next week, and probably won’t be breaking any records for July as a whole.

Minimum temperatures will reach a relatively warm 0 degrees tomorrow, 6 degrees on Wednesday, and 4 degrees on Thursday.

But the warmer temperatures come courtesy of two bands of wet weather that are set to hit the capital beginning tomorrow, and leaving as much as 40mm of rain in its wake by the end of the week.

“We should start getting the first of it come through around lunchtime, and it will increase quite significantly around late afternoon into early evening,” Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Ryan White said.

“Come Wednesday morning, it should ease back to showers, but a lot of it will be on the Brindabellas.

“However another trough is making its way towards Canberra, so come lunch time again on Thursday we can expect similar sort of rain again.”

While the precipitation in the capital will fall mostly as rain, with the chance of some snow on the Brindabellas, the Snowy Mountains are expecting a big dump of snow between now and Thursday, with as much as 40cm predicted to fall before the weekend.

Weatherzone meteorologist Tim Hooton said last week’s cold was caused by a low pressure system over much of southern Australia, which created a large pool of cold air.

A high pressure system followed close behind, which meant there was little cloud cover and light winds. This allowed the cold pool of air to settle and any warm air that developed during the day to escape.

‘‘Historically, there’s been a few weeks of five days below minus 4 degrees, but it hasn’t been six days since 1976,’’ Mr Hooton said.

‘‘There was a cold front which passed over the south of the country late last week, but when a high moved over fairly soon after that, it cleared all the skies and allowed the cold pool to sit around leaving skies clear overnight,’’ he said.

The other states and territories had avoided the freezing minimum temperatures experienced in the ACT.

‘‘No one’s been hit as hard as Canberra has,’’ Mr Hooton said.

‘‘Most other states have had cloud cover, which has let them stay warmer overnight.’’

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