Melbourne is on the cusp of the coldest December day since 2006 – less than two weeks after boiling through the equal-hottest November day this century.
The city hit a maximum of 16.8 degrees on Sunday, but is forecast for only 15 on Monday, as a series of cold fronts continues to push frigid air from the Southern Ocean.
If the prediction pans out, it’ll be the coldest December day since Christmas Day in 2006, when it peaked at 14.5 degrees and actually snowed.
On November 21 the city hit a top of 40.9 degrees – its hottest November day since 1894.
The unseasonal chill has brought significant dumps of snow across the Victorian Alps, and falls as low as Mount William in the Grampians.
Snow resorts are reporting heavy dumps over the weekend. At Mount Hotham, there was 25 centimetres on the ground on Monday morning, with more snow expected throughout the day. Falls Creek recorded up to 20 centimetres and Mount Buller saw 18.
Temperatures aren’t expected to warm up until Sunday, which is currently forecast for 27 degrees.
Despite the cold, it’s no record. The chilly start to December is similar to 1996, when it didn’t reach 25 degrees for the first 15 days of December. In 1987, it didn’t exceed 25 degrees until the 10th.
The coldest December day on record was 10.4 degrees on December 12 in 1867.
“We do get every year or two some snow falls across the Alpine areas,” said Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Michael Efron.
“It’s not a December record but there are certainly temperatures well below average.”
At Mount William in the Grampians, there was an overnight low of -0.2 degrees at 6.15am. At Mount Hotham, it got down to -2.1 degrees. At Buller it was -1.6 degrees and in Baw Baw it reached -1.
In Melbourne, the rest of the week is expected to remain below the December average of 24. There won’t be relief until Sunday, when the mercury finally pushes to 27.
Where it wasn’t snowing, the first day of December was wet.
Average totals throughout the state were 5-15 millimetres, but areas in the eastern ranges recorded up to 35 millimetres and there were isolated falls of up to 40 millimetres.
The highest rainfall recorded so far was 50.4 millimetres at Black Range Trout Farm near Whitfield in the King Valley.
The cold snap has seen many Melburnians dreaming of a white Christmas but Mr Efron said that was unlikely.
After Sunday, when the temperature leaps back up to an expected 27 degrees, climate indicators suggest we’re actually in for a warmer and drier than average December.
For updates on alpine roads, check out the resorts’ Facebook pages: Mount Hotham; Falls Creek; and Mount Buller.
Ribyn Grace :: The Age