Stand by for wet winter

WINTER announced its arrival with an icy blast across Tasmania this week coupled with damaging winds, low-level snow and showers.

A powerful cold front crossed much of south and eastern Australia as the seasons transitioned from autumn to winter. Temperatures fell between 3 and 6 degrees below the May average and snow was expected to fall to around 600-700m. The chilly start comes ahead of what is predicted to be a wetter than average winter.

In its seasonal outlook the Bureau of Meteorology said Tasmanians could expect higher-than-average rainfalls and temperatures, with most of the state expected to see a similar weather pattern to last year. Rainfall is expected to be above the winter median with the exception of the West Coast, which is expected to receive less-than-average rain in the coming months.

With already saturated catchments in southeastern Australia, the winter rain extends the flood risk for these regions. The 2021 Tasmanian winter saw generally average rainfall across the majority of the state, though several locations in the state saw their highest winter daily rainfall on record. This also brought some flooding through the Macquarie and South Esk rivers, as well as on the East Coast.

Temperatures in the state also are likely to be higher-than-average with an above 80 per cent chance of unusually high maximum temperatures. Last year was Tasmanian’s second warmest winter on record, 0.97C warmer than average with the average minimum temperature 1.2C higher.

Soil moisture is around normal to slightly above average for Tasmania, contrasting the rest of the rain-soaked Australian east coast. “With wet soils and full dams and rivers, the main flood risks this winter moves towards the southeast,” said the bureau’s Dr Andrew Watkins.

The winter outlooks reflect several climate influences, including a developing negative Indian Ocean Dipole, a slowly declining La Nina in the Pacific Ocean and warmer than average waters around northern Australia.

People can access more targeted advice around sever weather using a new feature of push notifications on its BOM Weather app. The push notifications will include six types of weather warnings; tropical cyclone, fire weather, flood, tsunami, severe thunderstorms and severe weather.

Decision Support Services General Manager Sandy Whight said the new push notifications were another way the bureau equipped Australians with the information they needed to make informed decisions. “We’re constantly looking to improve our services wherever possible, and we know people already use the BOM Weather app to get valuable information about rain, wind, temperature, and warnings quickly and easily,” she said.

“People can now turn on push notifications for their set location and the BOM Weather app will proactively alert them when warnings are issued for those areas. “Once installed and enabled, a notification will appear on the person’s device’s lock screen whenever a warning is issued that is relevant to your set location, and they can also select which type of notifications they would like to receive.

“We encourage everyone to stay up to date with our current warnings and forecasts, especially throughout severe weather seasons, and this new function will make it even easier to access simple weather information at their fingertips.”