The cold front has already seen strong gusts in southwest WA. Picture: Sky News.
The cold front has already seen strong gusts in southwest WA. Picture: Sky News.

Unusually severe weather on way for southern Australia

RESIDENTS of three states are being warned of an "unusually" long spell of severe weather as a fierce cold front heads towards the country's southeast.

Dust, thunder, hail, cold temperature and destructive winds of up to 130km/h could strike South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania late tonight and into Friday. Parts of southwest Western Australia have already seen strong winds as the front passes through on its way east.

Forecasters have said the weather will be "miserable".

It's the latest in a series of cold fronts that have brought unsettled and windy conditions, but the next arrival could be the fiercest of the bunch.

The Bureau of Meteorology issued severe weather warnings today for the three states. Adelaide, Melbourne and Hobart are all in the cold front's path.

South Australia will be the first of the trio to be hit.

"A cold front will enter the far west of the state this evening, reaching Nullarbor around midnight. The front will continue to move east over central and eastern districts on Friday," the bureau said in statement.

"Well ahead of the front, north- to north-westerly winds averaging 50-65km/h with isolated damaging gusts of 90-100km/h are forecast to develop."

Although protected from the worst of the weather, Adelaide could still see some strong gusts.

As the night progresses, the front will pass into Victoria, BOM Victoria senior meteorologist Stephen King said.

"A windy day coming up on Friday, we'll see winds increase through the evening," he said.

"But by the time people wake up there will be winds across most of Victoria with destructive winds in Alpine regions up to 130km/h while elsewhere winds gusts of 90 to 100km/h from first thing and right through most of the day.

"That's what is unusual about this event. That it will be for a significant amount of time - a good 12 hours - and across a really widespread area."

The front could bring up to 20-30mm of snow in Alpine areas down to 600 metres he said. The winds will also make the temperatures, forecast to top out in the mid-teens, to feel far colder than stated.

And then there's the dust.

"We had some raised dust in the Mallee a few weeks ago and there is again the possibility that dust could make its way through to Victoria or into Melbourne," Mr King said.

The winds will persist into the afternoon and will set Victoria up for a wintry weekend.

"There will be quite miserable weather across all of Victoria on Saturday with wide widespread shower activity and the possibility of hail and thunder," he said.

Almost the entirety of Tasmania is also in the warning area, bar the north coast. The BOM has said a vigorous north-westerly wind stream will develop tomorrow ahead of a cold front that will cross Tasmania late in the evening.

Abnormally high tides in the southeast are a possibility, coinciding with a king tide in the evening that could lead to flooding. Sea levels could exceed the highest standard (astronomical) tide of the year by 30 to 40cm with the evening high tide.

Winds averaging 60 to 70km/h with peak gusts in excess of 100km/h are likely over much of Tasmania from late Friday morning and are expected to peak during the afternoon.

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