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Australian weather briefs
- Isolated thunderstorms brought hail and some heavy rainfall around Perth and farther east yesterday. The Sydney Morning Herald reported hail fell in the Perth southern suburb of Hammond Park and in the wheatbelt towns of Carnamah, where a personal weather station recorded 10mm, and Kellerberrin. There were some very heavy 24 hour totals to 09.00 this morning, 53.6mm at Telenning Hill, 30km SW of Kellerberrin the highest.
- Rain set in across NW TAS overnight Sunday/Monday as cloud streamed in from the NW ahead of a broad and complex cold front. Much of the northwest coast and near inland had over 25mm in the gauge by 09.00, with Wynyard highest on 44mm followed by Burnie and Marrawah on 35.
- The same front gave moderate to occasionally heavy falls across southeastern SA south from Port Augusta overnight and during today. By 18.00 today, Port August had recorded 45mm and Padthaway South 39mm with a broad area of totals between 10 and 25mm in the Adelaide Hills.and Florieu Peninsula. During today, the rain spread into the southwestern quarter of VIC bringing falls of up to 10 to 27mm by 18.00.
Exceptionally cold weather blankets Europe
A wave of exceptionally cold weather for mid-spring has covered much of Europe during the past week bringing widespread frost, and mammoth falls of snow up to one to two metres deep in high country with lesser falls extending to more modest elevations. The worst effects of snow have been felt across Central Europe, from Austria and southern Germany to the Balkans, and extending north to Poland with some snow as far south as Turkey. Frost was a major problem in France, Switzerland, northern Germany and northern Italy.
A prolonged southerly dip in the jetstream steered a cold but also moist airstream into Central Europe, including southern Poland, Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic early last week bringing heavy snow to higher country but widespread snow to lower levels. Even Vienna at 110m elevation received snow. However, part of the frontal zone strengthened as it moved over the Black Sea in response to a deep upper low over the Balkans, bringing heavy and prolonged snow to most Balkan states and south as far as Turkey. The capital of Moldova, Chisinau (85m elevation), went from no snow on the ground to 57cm in 27 hours and a state of emergency was declared.
Because this mid-spring snow fell at relatively higher temperatures than winter snow, it fell as wet snow which carries a higher moisture content and weighs down trees and electricity wires and poles until they collapse or snap. The strong wind that often accompanied the snow assisted this process. As great depths of snow accumulated, mostly over the day or two that the snow-bearing cold front moved south, roads were blocked by downed trees and powerlines and there were power blackouts and injuries to people. Three thousand trees came down in Chisinau alone. Road travel was treacherous, with many multi-vehicle crashes including one involving 50 vehicles and injuring 24 people near Poprad, Slovakia. In the Black Sea, strong winds and rough seas led to a cargo ship capsizing and sinking, with eleven of its crew of twelve missing as at 19 April [AccuWeather].
A warmer than normal early spring had encouraged early budding of commercial fruit trees, flowers and vineyards which were severely threatened by the wet snow, then by heavy frosts that followed when skies cleared. Vineyards in France, Switzerland, Germany and northern Italy as well as orchards in many countries were sprayed with water to minimise damage - the water turns to ice, but this is warmer than a hard air frost. In many locations, lines of burning paraffin fire pots were centred along rows of trees or vines for heat. [Sources, some with excellent photos, include Al Jazeera 19/4 and 22/4, Weather Underground and AccuWeather.]
Here is a selection of images and videos that have been posted on the Severe Weather Europe Facebook page, and give an idea of the intensity and geographic extent of the snow storm. These are best viewed if you are on Facebook and logged in:
--The upper air chart at 500hPa at 00.00 UTC, 18 April showing the deep low over the Balkans feeding moisture in from the Black Sea
--Video of around 30cm snow on 18 April in the Oberallgäu, Germany
--Up to 70cm fresh snow in Mariazell, Austria
--Find the car! In Mariazell (868m elevation), NE Austria
--Deep snow and heavy fruit tree damage in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
--Video of blizzard conditions in the Italian Apennines
--Video of blizzard conditions at Zănoaga in central Romania
--Night-time snow fairlyland scene in Czestochowa, Poland
--Problems getting into the car: huge amounts of wet snow near Częstochowa, southern Poland, and another, possibly in the town
--Postcard scenes with 31cm fresh snow in Jankovac, Croatia
--Mass car collision TV report in Slovakia
--About 25cm snow in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Note the tree damage
--Protecting vineyards from frost by spraying near Beine, France
--Massive use of firebuckets and water to combat frost in France
--Firebuckets protecting vineyards in Switzerland
--A drive along a snow-covered street in Predeal, Romania
--Traffic chaos in snow, Judetul Vaslui, eastern Romania (about 300m elevation)