Snow has fallen across parts of NSW on the first day of winter, and a snowfield is set to break early as the wild weather continues to wreak havoc.
- A layer of snow has settled on the NSW Central Tablelands
- The temperature “seems” plummeted to -8 degrees Celsius in Orange
- Conditions are expected to improve from Thursday
Residents of Blayney, Bathurst, Oberon and west Lithgow reported drops Tuesday night as temperatures plummeted.
Reykha Levi works between Bathurst and Lithgow and says the snow is very deep.
“It’s pretty heavy… it’s sitting on the road, and it’s pretty thick; it’s up to your ankles,” he said.
“We have some staff who live in Bathurst – they can’t report in the morning due to heavy snow and the roads are closed.”
“I have been working here for the last seven years and many times I have seen this happen.”
The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) says temperatures dropped overnight to 1 degree Celsius in Orange and around 1.5C in Bathurst.
But the “feel like” temperature was much worse.
In Orange it “felt like” -8C.
Meteorologist Helen Reid says strong winds are bringing temperatures down.
“More in the eastern part of the Tablelands, but that means it’s going to be a windy day in the western part of the Tablelands too.”
Livestock producers received some warnings about freezing conditions.
Horses have been forced and sheep and cattle huddled together to protect themselves from gusts of wind.
James Gilmore raises sheep and cattle in Black Springs, near Oberon, which has received widespread snow cover.
“Cattle take a bit of a hit during these cold times,” he said.
“They’re certainly not making progress, they’re probably just maintaining body condition and if not losing something.
“So it takes a toll on them, and especially going through calving can affect their calving rates a little bit if you’re right in the middle.”
But he said winter weather was part of living in the Central Tablelands.
“I don’t think we’re worried about that, it’s a cold start,” he said.
There is some relief in sight.
The BOM says the strong cold front leaving Antarctica-like conditions behind is receding and temperatures should start to warm slightly on Friday.
No more snow is forecast this week.
“That probability will have passed,” Reid said.
“While we have showers in the forecast, we don’t expect snow to be as important a feature as the atmosphere will have moved in some direction.”
Heavy falls in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales have prompted the Perisher ski area to open early this season.
Yesterday it announced that it would open this weekend on Saturday, after reports of falls of 30 centimeters in the last 24 hours.
Snow continues to fall in the region today, with the BOM forecasting a high chance of snow down to 1000 meters.
Four schools remain closed today due to weather, up from 12 closed on Tuesday.
They are Ebor Public, Meadow Flat Public, Thalgarrah Environmental Education Center, and Werris Creek Public.
Strong winds are also wreaking havoc across the rest of NSW.
The State Emergency Service has responded to more than 1,400 calls for help, with the worst weather in Hunter and the lower mid-North Coast.
Spokesman Adam Jones said strong winds had started to move towards Illawarra.
“There will be gusts of 70 to 100 kilometers per hour, which is quite important,” he said.
“All along the coast, we’re really asking the community to make some sensible decisions.
“Trees, with how wet the ground is, can fall over quite easily, which is what we’re seeing.”
Nearly 4,000 homes in NSW remain without power, up from more than 20,000 on Tuesday.
The most affected area was on the central north coast.
“The trees have definitely been the biggest problem there, a lot of debris everywhere, a lot of loose items,” Essential Energy spokeswoman Raylene Myers said.
Damaging winds could make today challenging for crews again.
“Safety is the number one priority. So they will mitigate any risks they identify, but will continue to work where they can to get the lights back on,” Ms. Myers said.
Gloucester Chamber of Business President Matt Clinch said power was restored to High Street after 6 p.m.
He said the widespread power outage was difficult for many businesses, food operators and accommodation providers.
“It was a bit of a shock to some,” he said.
“It was a great loss.”
Aware , updated