Blizzard conditions are on their way for large parts of New South Wales and Victoria’s alpine areas as a “vigorous” cold front brings cold showers, strong winds and frigid temperatures, while South Australia has been hit by torrential rain.
The Bureau of Meteorology issued severe weather warnings for damaging wind gusts and blizzard conditions for southern NSW and across much of Victoria, with peaks gusts of up to 130km/h likely over Alpine areas.
In Victoria, blizzard conditions were forecast over Alpine areas above 1,400m, dropping to 1,000m later on Sunday, with Warrnambool, Maryborough, Castlemaine, Kyneton, Ballarat and Bacchus Marsh all potentially affected.
An earlier warning said that damaging winds could also be expected across southern coastal areas, with central areas forecast to face damaging wind gusts in excess of 90km/h.
The bureau recorded wind gusts above 90km/h at Mount William, Mount Butler, Mount Hotham Airport and Falls Creek.
The State Emergency Service urged residents to avoid travel if possible, and to stay indoors and away from windows.
“If outdoors, move to a safe place indoors. Stay away from trees, drains, gutters, creeks and waterways,” it said in a statement. “If driving conditions are dangerous, safely pull over away from trees, drains, low-lying areas and floodwater.”
In NSW, blizzard conditions were forecast for parts of the Snowy Mountains above 1,900m, dropping to around 1,500m later on Sunday, and could affect areas including Thredbo, Perisher, Charlottes Pass, Nowra, Bowral, Braidwood, Katoomba, Lithgow, Goulburn and Cooma.
Snow was expected to fall on the Alps above 1,300m on Sunday and is expected to persist throughout the week.
The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service recommended all back country travel be postponed until conditions improved.
The cold front has brought north-westerly winds to NSW, which was due to extend over south-east NSW on Sunday. A second burst of stronger westerly winds was forecast to hit NSW later on Sunday evening and persist into Monday.
Damaging winds averaging 80-90kmh were expected across the south-east of the state, continuing into Monday.
Winds of up to 60-70kmh were forecast for Sydney and Katoomba, easing early on Monday.
The SES warned NSW residents to move vehicles to cover, or away from trees, and to keep at least 8m from fallen power lines or objects that might be energised, such as fences.
Maximum temperatures are expected to remain below average well into next week, with Sydney and Melbourne likely to see minimums below 10C until Saturday.
On Sunday Adelaide recorded some of its heaviest rainfall this year, with the bureau reporting totals of 80mm at Woodhouse and 70mm at Ashton.
Strong winds have also lashed parts of South Australia, with gusts of 102 kmh at Noarlunga and 96 kmh at Point Avoid.
The bureau said more heavy rain could fall over saturated catchments at Adelaide Metro, Mount Lofty Ranges and the Mid North district, with some flash flooding possible.
The SES said it had responded to 266 jobs by Sunday lunchtime, having responded to 127 on Saturday, with around 100 yet to be addressed.
A spokesperson said there might be delays in attending to some jobs as difficult weather conditions continued throughout the day.