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1893 1st April: snow reported from Hallett, Yongala, Petersburg; earliest fall I know about.

I noticed in a list of snowfalls for Peterborough for the years 1888 to 1948 the following entry: "1893—April 1 Light".
(Source: and scroll down)

Now April 1st would be the earliest record of snow in South Australia I've yet come across and would surely be a contender for the earliest fall for any year in our recorded history. So off I went to Trove for a search of the South Australian newspapers of the time, thinking there's probably an error somewhere. To my surprise though, I found brief reports of snow falling at Yongala and Peterborough (Petersburg in those days) on 1st April 1893. No signs of an April fools day joke either.

Then when looking up the Government official weather map for that day on the Todd folios, I found what for me was the icing on the cake - a third report, the handwritten text of a "memo." from whom I presume was the telegraph station master or the train station master at Hallett, reporting:

memo. from Tel. Sm Hallett - 1/4/93
"A vy heavy fall of hail followed by
a snow storm occured here after
6am 1st the ground & surrounding
hills covered with a white mantle
lasting for a considerable time.
It was intensely cold at the time."

(Source: Charles Todd folios )

Below is an image of the handwritten memo so you can make your own interpretation of the text.

I'm pretty sure by the way that "snow storm" in the 1890s would have meant what we would now call a snow shower. 

Below is the Australian section of the official Todd folios weather map dated 9am 1st April 1893. It shows a high pressure system presumably centred in or south of the western Bight and a low pressure system centred near Tasmania, with what looks to be (judging by the closeness of the isobars) a fresh to strong and vigorous airstream coming up from the Southern Ocean between the high and the low. This is the most typical broadscale pattern of systems for our snow events in South Australia.

For snow to reach the ground at the beginning of April would I imagine likely require a rare combination of meteorological factors coming together to get exceptionally cold air from over or near Antarctica northwards and over southern South Australia very quickly.  Perhaps very rare upper atmospheric conditions were favorable too. The longer our historical record of weather events stretches, the more chance there is of exceptionally rare combinations of meteorological factors aligning.

Now to individual reports I found in newspapers of the time (source Trove).

South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), Monday 3 April 1893, page 4.

{quoting snow-relevant text from longer item}

Saturday, April 1.

... South Australia.— Uusettled throughout; gloomy to raining and squally. Moderate to strong west to south winds. Snow and hail recorded about Yongala early this morning.

Article identifier
Page identifier
APA citation
METEOROLOGICAL REPORT. SATURDAY, APRIL 1. (1893, April 3). South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), p. 4. Retrieved April 3, 2017, from 


Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931), Monday 3 April 1893, page 6.

{quoting snow-relevant text from longer article}


Yongala, April 1. Splendid rain has been falling since daylight this morning, whilst at about 8 o'clock there was a sharp tall of snow. Over a quarter of an inch of rain fell up till 9 o'clock, and it is still raining. ...

Petersburg, April 2. Fine rains accompanied by snow have fallen and there is every prospect of a further downpour.

Article identifier
Page identifier
APA citation
WEATHER IN THE COUNTRY. (1893, April 3). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931), p. 6. Retrieved April 3, 2017, from 


South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), Monday 3 April 1893, page 6.

{quoting only snow-relevant and hail-relevant text from longer article}

{Some hail and thunderstorms were also reported during this weather event and I've included two such reports here.}


Petersburg, April 1. The long spell of fine weather terminated on Thursday, when light showers of rain fell at intervals during the afternoon and evening. Yesterday was rough and cold, with showers in the afternoon. To-day has set in wet and cold, and this morning very light flakes of snow fell for a short time.

Crystal Brook, April 1, 12.50 p.m. The long-looked for rain fell on Thursday evening. Last night the weather was very boisterous, and this morning we had a thunderstorm, accompanied by heavy rain. Large hailstones fell. It is still raining. We estimate the fall at half an inch.

Houghton, April 1. At Houghton the weather has been intensely cold, with heavy hailstorms. Some fear it will do a great deal of damage. The water was sadly wanted. As the weather was so dry and water being so scarce the residents have been carting water for some little time, and almost the same applies to Teatree Gully, Chain of Ponds, Gumeracha, Blumberg, and Mount Pleasant.

Article identifier
Page identifier
APA citation
RAIN IN THE COUNTRY. (1893, April 3). South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), p. 6. Retrieved April 3, 2017, from 


Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904), Saturday 8 April 1893, page 10.

{quoting snow-relevant text from longer article and leaving out a Peterborough report which is the same as one in another article above}

Rainfall in the North.—A correspondent writes:—"I have just returned from a trip to Narridy via Terowie, Petersburg, and Gladstone. Splendid and general rains fell on Saturday and Sunday, extending from Gawler to north of Petersburg, being heavier toward the coast, and varying in the aggregate from about three-quarters of an inch to over an inch. On Saturday the cold was intense, and slight falls of snow took place at intervals at Petersburg and Yongala. ... "

Article identifier
Page identifier
APA citation
THE WEATHER IN THE COUNTRY (1893, April 8). Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904), p. 10. Retrieved April 3, 2017, from 


End of report.

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