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1990 to 1999 inclusive - SA snowfalls.

Reports of 1990s snowfalls I found in The Advertiser, the Sunday Mail and The News on the Newstext website, supplemented with a few items from my weather diary and elsewhere. 

Firstly a word about Newstext. Here's a quote from their website: "Newstext contains nearly 30 million articles from 150 News Corporation newspapers worldwide ... . Most of the newspapers are published in Australia. The archive for some newspapers begins in 1984. ... . Newstext is a user-pays site, and you must subscribe to download articles. In doing so you must agree to Newstext's terms and conditions of use."

Futher details are on their website. It doesn't include any non-News Corporation newspapers such as the Border Watch and Northern Argus.

I've been unable to find any Bureau of Meteorology day to day weather reports and weather maps on Newstext. I presume this is because "... Newstext is a text-only editorial archive, and contains no advertisements, classifieds, public notices, photographs, graphics or tables."

The Newstext archive dates for South Australia are given as:
"The Advertiser(Adelaide) from 1 January 1986
Sunday Mail from 7 August 1988
The News, Adelaide, from 2 January 1989 to 27 March 1992
The Messenger group of community newspapers from January 1989 ".

So the Newstext archive doesn't include any South Australian newspapers published before 1986 and the Trove database doesn't include any published more recently than 1954, so as far as I know there is no online collection of SA newspapers published between 1954 and 1986. 

Now to my search. I searched the Newstext website database for 1990s snow reports between the dates 1st April to 1st December for each year, in The Advertiser and the Sunday Mail (all years) and The News (1990 and 1991). The News ceased publication in early 1992.

I used the search keywords snow and hail (by entering "snow and hail" without the inverted commas in the keywords window), then "snow and lofty", "snow and burra" and "snow and flinders". In my estimate using those search parameters will find most South Australian snow events reported in the Newstext papers. It won't find all of them, in part because of the way the search facility is set up on Newstext. For example, when using the keywords "snow and hail" although the search will find all articles with the word snow and the word hail appearing somewhere in the article, we searchers only get to see the title and the first few lines of the article unless we pay to download the full article. So we may discard a few articles that don't look promising when they actually contain a reference to a snowfall.

Simply using the keyword "snow" produces a large number of results almost all of them of no relevance to the search, where the word snow is used in a variety of other contexts including Snow White, snow-drops, Mr Alfred Snow, and references to snow in other states and countries. For example, if I use the keyword snow for 1st April to 1st December 1990 I get "361 documents matched your query "snow"".  But using "snow and hail" I get "9 documents matched your query "snow and hail"".

I added any further records I could find from a weather diary I kept during most of those years, and found isolated records from other sources.

A search of all the South Australian Messenger newspapers on the Newstext database published between the dates 1st January 1990 to 1st January 2000 for the keywords "snow and hail" returned only three results: "3 documents matched your query "snow and hail". I judged none of them were likely to refer to snowfalls in SA, and I concluded that a search of Messengers published in the 1990s for reports of snowfalls would not be productive.

Important: all the newspaper reports of SA snow events below come from my search on Newstext unless otherwise stated, using the search parameters I've described above.

Brief summary

Based on the reports I've found, there were three outstanding snow events in the decade of the 1990s.

On 21st October 1995 there was a very unusual snowfall in the Flinders Ranges, perhaps one of the most widespread falls the Flinders Ranges has seen in recorded history. I haven't found much information on the meteorological causes but I'm guestimating it may have been due in part to a developing upper low over eastern South Australia combined with a very cold south-easterly airflow near the surface coming from a long way south.

On August 18th 1996 "Snowfalls of 5cm to 7.5cm were reported from Mt Barker and Bridgewater to the southern end of the Barossa Valley" and "the State ... recorded its most widespread snow falls in 12 years". The quotes are from an article in The Advertiser. This snow event was a bonanza for locals and snowchasers alike.

Then on July 28th 1998 there was another and probably even bigger and more widespread snowfall and this too was a bonanza for locals and snowchasers. An article in The Advertiser reported ""SNOW turned the countryside ~ from Kuitpo Forest in the southern Mt Lofty ranges to the Flinders Ranges in the Mid North ~ into a winter wonderland yesterday."

At the other end of the scale. I was unable to find any reports of snow falling in the years 1993 and 1999. There may or may not have been one or two local falls in 1992 but I found no reports of any actual fall. I found reports of one or two snow events in each of the other years of the decade, none of them seeming to be of the once a decade or rarer category. But for most South Australians, seeing any snow falling within our borders is very unusual and an experience not to be forgotten. Even if you're the only person on the only summit where snow falls on that day, for you it's likely to be a memorable event :-)

Our recent experiences over the past few years suggest there would have been at least several snowfalls on one or more of our highest summits in the 1990s that were not seen, or seen but not reported in the newspapers.

I found the newspaper reports of snowfalls in the 1990s to be generally pretty sketchy and light on in details of the extent of the falls and on their meteorological causes. Gone were the days when correspondents in numerous towns would send in reports for the major newspapers to publish if snow fell in their town or district.  

Two sources of information and news about snowfalls in the 1990s I have not seen are non-News Corporation newspapers, and archival television footage. And I'm hoping that the Bureau of Meteorology will publish its records of South Australian snowfalls since settlement in the not too distant future. Maybe some of the research moneys allocated annually for the hot topic of climate change will find its way to the Bureau for this purpose. There's surely never been a better time!

Now on to the individual years of the decade.


I found references to two falls of snow in South Australia during the period 1st April to 1st December 1990, on the 27th June and on the 1st July.

Snow on the 27th June 1990.

The Advertiser "Edition 2 - MetroTHU 28 JUN 1990, Page 003 Gales wreak havoc as SA endures big chill By JENNIFER TURNER"

{selective quotes}

"... South Australia was hit by driving rain, hail, gale-force winds and even snow yesterday. ... Adelaide shivered in a maximum of 11.2C ... The Bureau of Meteorology said the gale-force winds peaked at 57 knots - or 106km/h - in the city. A spokesman said rain, hail and destructive winds had been recorded in most areas of the State with snow in the Mid North. Snow also was reported at Crafers in the Adelaide Hills, just north of the Barossa Valley at Eudunda, and at Mt Remarkable near Melrose."

{end of selective quotes}

Update 22nd June 2017: I found a short article with some more information on this 1990 snow event. The screentake images below together cover the whole article, and begin with a larger-font image of the most snow-relevant section for South Australia (the article on the link I've given is I found challenging to read).

Bulletin of the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society
Sep 1, 2014 - Title: Bulletin volume 27, no 4 August 2014, Author: Australian Meteorological ... .


Snow on the 1st July 1990.

The Advertiser Edition 2 - MetroMON 02 JUL 1990, Page 001
The big chill: more to come

{selective quotes}

Yesterday's maximum in Adelaide was only 10C ...
Squalls of up to 120km/h were recorded on Kangaroo Island's
west coast ...
Snow fell at Peterborough and Terowie and in parts of the Flinders
... forecasters said a cold southerly airstream developed yesterday into an intense low pressure system ... moving in a north-easterly direction ...
Late yesterday the low moved to central Kangaroo Island ...
A weather bureau spokeswoman said the low had been caused by very cold upper level air coming from a long way south of the continent near Antarctica.

{end of selective quotes}


I found references to one fall of snow in South Australia during the period 1st April to 1st December 1991 - on the 23rd August, when very light or light snow was reported from Mt Lofty, Bridgewater, Cape Jervois, and Deep Creek Conservation Park. 

Snow on 23rd August.

The Advertiser 24th August 1991
Edition 2 - MetroSAT 24 AUG 1991, Page 002
The big freeze as hail storms hit SA

Below are selective quotes from the article.

Most of South Australia can expect some relief today from
the storms that battered the State this week, climaxing yesterday
in fierce hailstorms.
A deep depression south of the State generated yesterday what
the Bureau of Meteorology called a "vigorous'', freezing southern
Apart from the hailstorms, the system produced very light snow
at Mt Lofty and Bridgewater in the Adelaide Hills. Most of it
melted before hitting the ground.
Mr David Tredrea, at Mt Lofty House, said very light snow fell
between 1pm and 2.30pm but only a few flakes reached the ground.
The lowest temperature in the State was 0.8C at Mt Lofty at 3pm.

{end of selective quotes}

The News
Edition 3 - Red Spot FRI 23 AUG 1991, Page 064

{quoting from the article}

"SA HAD its first taste of snow for 1991 today with light falls on the southern
Fleurieu Peninsula. Residents at Cape Jervis confirmed snow fell about
lunchtime while similar falls were reported at Deep Creek Conservation
Park. The falls lasted about five minutes and the snow quickly melted. At Mt Lofty, golf club members reported huge hailstones and driving rain ... "

{end of quote from the article}

They shoulda reported hailstones the size of golf balls ;-)


Two search returns mentioned snow in relation to South Australia in the period 1st April to 1st December 1992, but neither of these articles said snow had actually fallen anywhere in SA.

Possible snowfall on 11th July.

Sunday Mail (SA), 12-07-1992, Ed: 1 - State, Pg: 003
Car crash spate as rain hits

{a selective quote from the article - looks like the caption to a photo}

"Shae Brodie figured snow was the go in the middle of a freezing
Adelaide yesterday.
Six-year-old Shae, shovel at the ready, found the trailer-load of
snow outside the Union Hotel in Waymouth St where it is being used
for a "Christmas in July" dinner.
Union Hotel proprietor, Ms Shirley Robins, hopes the snow will
last long enough to build a snowman and for the 80 diners at the
winter solstice dinner to enjoy that Christmas feeling while they tuck
into turkey and plum pudding."

{end of selective quote from the article}

There's no mention of this being artificial snow of some kind so it's possible that someone collected snow or hail in a trailer from Mt Lofty, or perhaps suburbia if it was hail. It wouldn't be the first time a load of snow has been brought down to Adelaide from the hills. If there was enough snow on the ground in the hills for a trailer-load to be collected one would think it would have been mentioned elsewhere in the article. It will remain a mystery for the present.

Forecast of snow in Flinders Ranges 19th July.

The Advertiser Edition 2 - MetroMON 20 JUL 1992, Page 003
Cold snap will ease

This article included the comment: "South Australia's cold snap is forecast to ease today after Adelaide recorded yesterday its lowest maximum for a year.
But the Bureau of Meteorology said last night the Flinders Ranges was likely to have snow overnight.
Adelaide's maximum yesterday was 11.8C, the lowest since 9.9C
recorded on July 8 last year."

Other searches eg just for snow, found no references to snow falling around either of the above dates in question. I did find a mention of skiing in South Australia though:

The Advertiser
Edition 2 - MetroTUE 14 JUL 1992, Page 001
It's on with the snow

Caption: Four-year-old Alice braved the winter weather yesterday to enjoy chilly holiday fun. Now in the second week of school holidays, Alice is one of thousands of children who have enjoyed the excitement of Mt Thebarton indoor ski and skating centre.


I didn't find any references to a fall of snow in SA in the period 1st April to 1st December 1993.


I found reference to only one snow event during the period 1st April to 1st December 1994 - on Saturday July 30th. 

Snow on July 30th.

On Saturday July 30th 1994 snow was reported from several locations from Mt Lofty to the Flinders Ranges, and hail was widely reported. Perhaps because the fall was on a Saturday and The Advertiser was not published on Sundays, I could find no report on this event in The Advertiser. The only useful information about this snowfall I could find was in a Sunday Mail article published on 31st July, which I selectively quote from below.

Sunday Mail
Edition 2 - FinalSUN 31 JUL 1994, Page 002
Snow, hail as big freeze hits SA

{selective quotes from the article}

"Snow, hail and drought-breaking rain wreaked havoc throughout the
State yesterday, causing a spate of vehicle accidents and minor
flooding as emergency services were placed on alert."
"As relieved grain growers celebrated the saving of an $800 million
crop that was only days away from being devastated by the big dry:
Snowfalls were reported at Clare, Crafers, Mt Lofty, Mt Crawford,
Peterborough and the Flinders Ranges, where temperatures plummeted to
near-freezing conditions."

{end of selective quotes}

Now here's a snow snippet from my weather diary I kept at the time, referring to the same event.

29-7-94 Friday: "... a very deep low passing to south of us, with very cold air behind the front. ... "
30-7-94 Saturday: "... some showers last night. dawn - very cold est 3º. 900 am big shower cumulus with some small hail, and some rain, temp 6.9º, a couple of bits of thunder, light snow at crafers. rest of day - max approx 11½, a few showers and some light hail. mostly cloud but some sun. very cold, moderate S-W wind. light snow highest parts of flinders, mid north, Mt Barker.
{end quote from my diary}

In my diary entry for the next day Sunday 31-7-94 I made no mention of snow.


I found reference to two snow events from 1st April to 1st December 1995. On Tuesday 5th September "several unofficial sightings of snow in Hills areas were reported".  On 21st October 1995 snow fell in the Flinders Ranges and was also reported from the Mid-North.

Tuesday 5th September 1995 - several unofficial sightings of snow in Hills areas.

The Advertiser
Edition 2 - MetroWED 06 SEP 1995, Page 005
Frosty future for first signs of spring

Snippets from the article:

"Early spring's fickle weather has brought fruit trees bursting into
bloom but also put snow in the air over the Adelaide Hills yesterday.
and "snow was in the air about 11am yesterday at Crafers and Mt Lofty. "The snow came down in the morning, mixed in with a light shower,'' said Mr Pat Burgess, who
works at the Crafers Garden Centre on Piccadilly Rd. "You could see the flakes quite clearly. It wasn't settling on the ground though. On average we get one fall of snow each year, but it rarely settles.''
The Bureau of Meteorology confirmed that several unofficial sightings of snow in Hills areas were reported yesterday. "It won't settle if it's not below zero,'' said a bureau spokesman. The lowest maximum temperature recorded in the State yesterday was 8C at Mt Crawford."

The text in quotes below is from my weather diary of the time.

4-9-95 Monday Adelaide minimum 11.2 maximum 12.9
"cold, no sun. middle level cloud layer all day, about 3 hrs of light rain morning, fine afternoon, light cold SW wind. a front passed early am, the rain is from a middle level disturbance behind the front. a high is south of WA and there's cold air coming up in a light-mod southerly."
5-9-95 Tuesday: Payneham minimum "approx 7", maximum "approx 12".
"one of the coldest days of the year, due to a light-mod southerly airstream directed by a high well south of the bight. light-mod S winds, approx 1/4 sun, 3/4 low cloud slowly from S, fine. snow in centre of Melbourne for 1st time in 20 years. a couple of reports of light snow in the mt lofty ranges but there are no big cumulus clouds around ... , the main activity is over the eastern states. "

21st October 1995 snow falls in the Flinders Ranges and Mid North.

A Bureau of Meteorology short article called "Low Level Snow" published on their web site at http://www.bom.gov.au/lam/climate/levelthree/c20thc/temp4.htm said "... the not-widely-known event of 21 October 1995 was particularly impressive for the extent of its northward penetration across central Australia, and its occurrence in late spring. Snow fell to 200 metres above sea level over South Australia's Flinders Ranges, and Broken Hill registered a maximum of just 5°C, its lowest recorded maximum in any month. This cold snap resulted in record low temperatures as far north as Wave Hill (in the Northern Territory)."

{Update 30th June 2016: the above Bureau link is no longer working and I was unable to find the article on their website when I searched on 18th May 2016. I did find what may be a copy of the text on a website here http://www.alpinforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=12414 (scroll down the page to find it). I've copied the full text and reproduced it in "Footnote 1" at the bottom of this page.} Here's some information I found on Newstext on this snow event in an article in The Advertiser Monday 23 OCT 1995 Page 3 "Silver lining as winter returns" by Phillip Coorey.

Referring to Saturday 21st October the article says:
"Temperatures reached near record lows ... "
"Snow fell in the Mid-North ... "
"SNOW fell for several hours in the Flinders Ranges, around Blinman and
Wilpena Pound ... . St Mary's Peak, the highest point, remained snowcapped for a few hours until rain washed away the snow."
A station owner near Yunta said the maximum temperature on Saturday was 3.5 degrees (I presume at the station homestead). The Broken Hill maximum for Saturday was 6.1 degrees, the lowest maximum since records began in 1888.

Re "Snow fell in the Mid-North ..." I've not seen any information on where in the Mid-North snow was reported.

Now here's snippets from a recollection of the event I found in a newspaper article published in June the following year. I think the date given for the snowfall "October 26, 1995" is most likely incorrect and it should be October 21.

The Advertiser
Edition 2 - MetroWED 26 JUN 1996, Page 014
Spectacular snowfall last October

THE Mt Lofty snow picture (The Advertiser, 15/6/96) brought back
memories of October 26, 1995, when we had snowfalls in our area. ...

The snow fell between 1pm and 5pm and heavy falls were recorded as far
north as Wilpena Pound. It was a beautiful sight to see snow settling
on native pines, gum trees and the salvation jane. We also had snow in
July, 1984, but October's falls were far more spectacular, as could be
seen in the photos I have enclosed.

We had billets from Aldgate Primary School who were thrilled by the
display and had great fun throwing snow at each other (pictured


It seems it may have been a rather unusual weather pattern that produced the snowfall. Here's my diary entry for Saturday 21st snow day. "... a cold gloomy day with mod S-E to S winds. some sun early, then middle level cloud cover from N-W rest of day and some low [cloud] from S-E. fine till a bit of drizzle started after dark. very interesting (but cold) situation - there's a strong high in SW bight but barometer, which rose to approx 30.4 last night, has been falling all day, and it's been raining (from N-W cloud) [ie coming from the north-west] in eastern interiors and it's so cold there, there's been snow on higher peaks of flinders [ranges], presumably from the middle level N-W cloud. I presume there's a deepening trough over the eastern states - this is developing and stopping the high from moving east.

22-10 min 10 max 13 [not official readings] there's been a cold S wind (mod-light) all night, and some light drizzle, b approx 30.1 (it fell last night). I think the eastern states trough is now a substantial low - there's gale warnings for the eastern SA coasts (S winds) ... " {end of quote from diary}. I made no mention in my diary of any snow in SA on the 22nd.


Above: Snow fall at Yednalue Station near Cradock South Australia (about 100 km north-east of Port Augusta), 21st October 1995.

My thanks to Josie Smith who published this montage into the Facebook page "Mid North Storms" and to her daughter who took the photos, for permission to publish this beautiful set of photos here :-)


I found reference to only one snow event in 1996 but it was a big one, said by The Advertiser to be South Australia's "most widespread snow falls in 12 years."

August 18th 1996: extensive snowfalls in the Mt Lofty Ranges.

Below are photos I took of a 19th August 1996 Advertiser newspaper clipping of a front-page article on the big snowfall event on 18th August. I've reproduced the full text of the article below these images, so you don't need to read it from the photos of the article. 

ABOVE: Snow covers the edge of the South-Eastern Freeway near Mt Barker yesterday. INSET: Winter cloaks gumnuts at Littlehampton.

Above: A snowball fight provides rare fun for Ashley Wilton, 16, left, and her friend Lexie Newell, 20, right, at Littlehampton yesterday.

Now here is the text of the above article.

"Our winter wonderland
By Anthony Keane

Winter's icy fingers tightened their grip as the State yesterday recorded its most widespread snow falls in 12 years.
But the freezing conditions failed to deter thousands of people who flocked to the Adelaide Hills to frolic in the winter wonderland.
Snowfalls of 5cm to 7.5cm were reported from Mt Barker and Bridgewater to the southern end of the Barossa Valley.
There was also a report of snow near Clare in the Mid North.
At Littlehampton, near Mt Barker, residents took to the streets to build snowmen, take photographs and pound each other with snowballs.
Littlehampton resident Mr Mark O'Meadhra, 33, said he woke up at 8am to see snowflakes falling in his garden.
"My daughter and wife didn't believe me at first ~ my daughter had never seen snow,'' he said.
Ms Jenny Kimpton, 32, said it was the first time she had seen snow in the Adelaide Hills.
"We were woken up by friends who phoned us, and we phoned at least five other people,'' she said, munching on a snowball.
When asked why she was eating the snow she said: "Because it's probably the freshest water the Hills will ever see.''
Another Littlehampton resident, Ms Shannon Brannock, 21, said: "It's a cosmic winter wonderland and good breakfast.''
And Ms Lexie Newell, 20, described the snowfall as "the best thing that ever happened''.
"I've never seen snow in my life,'' she said.

Bureau of Meteorology technical officer Mr Peter Webb said the snow was caused by an "exceptionally cold'' air mass over Adelaide. At 10,000ft above sea level the temperature was minus 15 degrees.
The Mt Lofty automatic weather station recorded a low of minus 0.5 degrees at 8am.
"There hasn't been a fall of this magnitude since July 3, 1984,'' Mr Webb said.
Snow in the Mt Lofty area had been reported on 137 occasions since 1841. The last fall, in September, 1995, was very brief.
"Usually it just falls and melts, but it was cold enough this morning for it to stay on the ground,'' Mr Webb said.

There were still traces of snow on hilltops by about 11am but it was melting fast.
Police said apart from some minor incidents where cars slid off icy roads, there were no major accidents or other problems caused by the snowfall.
"I think everyone was taking heed of the road warnings,'' Mt Barker police Constable Deborah Kelly said.
Hail was also reported in several areas of the Hills and outer suburbs yesterday.
Adelaide's minimum and maximum temperatures were 4.1 degrees at 6.19am and 11.1 degrees at 1.27pm.
The bureau said conditions would remain chilly for the next few days, with a shower or two forecast for today and tomorrow. The overcast skies are expected to clear by Wednesday morning, however."

{end of text of above article}

Here's an account of the snowfall as experienced by Tim Eckert who was staying overnight at Lobethal. This was published on his website Weatherchase.net http://www.weatherchase.net along with 5 photos. I've sourced this account from the internet archive website http://archive.org here https://web.archive.org/web/20070725222711/http://au.geocities.com/timjeckert/1996.html (copy and paste into browser address window) as it's not currrently on weatherchase.net.

"18th August 1996 I have only ever seen snow once in my life and it was by chance. I happened to be staying overnight at Lobethal in the Adelaide Hills for a 21st. It was a very cold night for the party but there were no suggestions of any light snow for the hills, but we were woken up at 6am to a cry of 'snow'! The scene was absolutely amazing to my eyes. It wasn't just lightly falling - this was coming down nicely and settling to a depth of 2cm where we were. I spent the next 2 hours walking the streets of Lobethal with my camera, taking it all in. The snow eventually stopped falling at about 8am when the sun started shining between falls and warmed the atmosphere.

Apparently the snow was caused by an exceptionally cold air mass bringing extensive snowfalls to the Adelaide Hills, parts of the Barossa Valley and the Mid North. According to the BOM and locals, it was one of the heaviest snowfalls experienced in the Adelaide Hills for many years. It remains probably one of my most amazing memories of my life."

I've put his five snow-carpeted landscape photos, and four others taken on the day by Kym Burton and Ian Holton, in the gallery 18th August 1996 snow-covered landscape photos (opens in a new window).These photos show one of the rare heartbeats in time (to borrow a phraze) in the lifetimes of South Australians when they may actually get to see a snow-covered landscape! Below are two of these photos. My thanks to Tim Eckert, Kym Burton and Ian Holton for permission to include their photos and to Tim for permission to include his account of the snowfall as experieced in Lobethal.

Above: Snow in Lobethal on the morning of 18th August 1996.
Photographer: Tim Eckert. 

Above: Snow photograhed from the Cudlee Creek Road near Lobethal on the morning of 18th August 1996.
Photographer: Kym Burton.

Now here is what I wrote by hand into a weather diary I was keeping at the time, on the 18th August 1996. The only changes I've made to the original text are to change a few shorthand notations to longhand, paragraph the text, and add "am" and "C" to times and temperatures where they were implied but not written, and added "[in Adelaide suburb of Payneham]".

"SNOW!! (Mt Lofty Ranges). Woke at approx 645 am [in Adelaide suburb of Payneham], temp approx 4.5 C, some very iced moderately sized cumulus over hills, looked interesting, at 8am news of snow at several towns eg Nairn, so I drove to Mt Lofty Summit - fog, and a few patches of thin snow or hail on ground. Waited, sure enough, a line of iced-up cumulus, not very big, arrived slowly from south, about 10 minutes of snow, that cleared, some sun, waited for approx 3/4 hour for next line of cumulus to arrive, about 20 uninterrupted minutes of snow, mostly without rain or hail, at times quite heavy, like heavy fall of almond blossom or feathers, eventually the vegetation was lightly covered and some exposed boughs of trees had white patches on them. That cleared, waited another 30 minutes or so, another patch of cloud, about 10 minutes of light rain with a lot of snow and hail. Returned to Payneham successful mission completed."

"There's a high in the southern Bight and there is a very cold southerly airstream with scattered cumulus shower clouds. Weather bureau estimates about a 1 in 10 year snow event."

"During the 20 minute fall my umbrella became completely covered with snow, and it was resting for a while on people's hair and clothes and covered vehicles. It was minus 0.5 degrees C at Mt Lofty Summit at approx 8am."

"TV footage showed snow-covered (1 to 1 and a 1/2 inches) landscape in a swathe I think from about Mt Barker north-east towards or to southern Barossa. This fell I think mostly between 7 to 8 am Sunday."

"Today's city temps approx 4.5, 11.5, a cold day. " {end of diary quote}.

From memory, I was not actually on the summit of Mt Lofty when I observed the falling snow, but on the Summit Road somewhere between Mt Lofty House and the gate to the road that leads up to the true summit from Summit Road, when I observed the first falls I saw, and in the native stringybark woods between the above-mentioned gate and the summit for the "During the 20 minute fall my umbrella became completely covered with snow" shower. The summit may have been closed to vehicles at the time as a consequence of the Ash Wednesday fire. I don't recall seeing any photos of the event in my photo collection so apparently I didn't take a camera.


I found only one reference to a fall of snow in 1997 on Newstext, on 15th July in the Hallett area and near Crafers.

15th July 1997: light snow at Hallett and nearby areas and "near Crafers I think ..."

Snow-relevant snippets from an Advertiser article:

The Advertiser
Edition 2 - MetroWED 16 JUL 1997, Page 003
Snow falls as power use hits a record high
By Annabel Crabb

"South Australia's cold snap prompted record power usage on Monday and
heaters were still in high demand yesterday as snow fell in the State's mid-North."
"The Mid-North town of Hallett reported a light snowfall yesterday,
with flakes falling sporadically between 9am and midday.
"Unfortunately, it was all melting as soon as it hit the ground,''
said the proprietor of the Hallett Store, Ms Judy Harvey. Flakes were
also reported in nearby areas."

Now for a snow snippet on the same event from my weather diary. I've converted some shorthand into longhand in the quote from my diary below.

Tuesday 15th July 1997:
"Moderate SW winds, several showers or periods of rain overnight as front passes. Some hail and snow before dawn near Crafers I think, it was a vigorous front although barometer down only to 30.25. Couple of light showers during the day but mostly fine. barometer rising".


I found reports of only one snow event in 1998, on July 28th.

July 28th 1998 - widespread snow along the Ranges.

This was one of the bigger snow events in South Australia in recent decades.

Here's snippets from an article on this snowfall in The Advertiser dated 29th July 1998.


The article is light on in detail but does provide some information as well as the seemingly inevitable "winter wonderland".

"SNOW turned the countryside ~ from Kuitpo Forest in the southern Mt Lofty ranges to the Flinders Ranges in the Mid North ~ into a winter wonderland yesterday."

What that actually means in terms of snow cover is left mostly to our imagination.

"The Adelaide Hills were blanketed with the heaviest falls as the city experienced its coldest July day since 1991, with a maximum of only 10.5 degrees."

On Mt Lofty "hundreds of people crammed the summit", and a staff member at Mt Lofty House commented "There was about two inches of snow covering everything".

Snow was reported as carpeting Crafers, Ashton and Summertown and covering a playground at Stirling. The article says snow fell at many places in the country including Peterborough, Burra, Clare, Robertstown and Angaston. It's a pity the reporters didn't list all the "many places" but maybe the information survives somewhere, perhaps in Bureau of Meteorology records.

I didn't go snow-chasing or observe snow on this occasion but I did observe the day from suburban Adelaide and wrote the following diary entry.

"28-7 tues approx approx 6, 10 and a half, very cold.
Moderate to fresh south-west wind. Intense low near west coast Tasmania. A high ridging south right down to Antarctica to west of us. A "polar air mass" over our gulfs. Periods of rain and showers during morning from typical deep south-west cold air middle level cloud, this fell as snow on Mt Lofty and higher parts of ranges from Kuitpo to Flinders.
Afternoon - typical winter south-west type frizzed out cumulus, frequent over hills, less so over plains, several showers here, a couple with small hail as well as rain, some more snow showers in the hills.
Snow reported in Angaston, Nurioopta, covered the ground in Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens, on a plain east of Peterborough. I'd say a 1 in 10 year event. The clouds didn't look different (from here) to typical south-west type snow days, only there were more of them, both the middle level in the morning, and the cumulus in the afternoon, about double what we typically see when there's a bit of snow about. Two bits of thunder heard. No snow reported in Adelaide. Mt Crawford 4 degrees max I think (needs checking). [At Payneham it] was 6 degrees approx at 8am, 10 and a half max, much of day around 8 degrees. If this weather map didn't produce snow in Adelaide then what will?" {end of diary entry}

I wrote this diary entry at Payneham (suburb in Adelaide). Apparently I didn't drive into the hills to observe the snow.

A few clarifications: "28-7 tues approx approx 6, 10 and a half, very cold" - those are not official minimum and maximum for Adelaide; "frizzed out cumulus" means there were glaciated tops to the cumulus; "several showers here" - the here means at Payneham; "Snow reported in Angaston, Nurioopta, covered the ground in Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens, on a plain east of Peterborough" - those were just a few of the places where snow fell; "If this weather map didn't produce snow in Adelaide then what will?" - by that I presumably meant suburban Adelaide.

Here's a first-hand account from Dr Phil Bagust, who posted the following description into the Weatherzone forums in a thread on historical snow events, here http://forum.weatherzone.com.au/ubbthreads.php/topics/1190645/15#1219980

"I drove up to the hills that morning. Didnt go to Lofty, didnt have to! Drove up to Ridge road and waited by myself until I had to go to work. There had clearly been snow because it was still on people's roofs. I managed to score one memorable coldie that taught me a lot. My position went from sunshine, to rain, to graupel, then to quite heavy snow as the core came over with the reversal on the way out. I also remember how it felt warmer when it was snowing than when the graupel was falling. Perhaps because the downdraft had stopped. I have some photos somewhere. Good fun. Not a soul in sight."

Above: "Snowing heavily here and just starting to accumulate. ... on Range Rd. Mt. Lofty Ranges, 600m ASL, July 1998".  Photographer Dr Phil Bagust. [? Ridge Road]

Above: "The humble Truimph just after a snowshower! on Range Rd. Mt. Lofty Ranges, 600m ASL, July 1998". Photographer Dr Phil Bagust. [? Ridge Road]


I didn't find any references to snow falling in SA in 1999 either on Newstext or in my weather diary.

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Footnote 1.

This may be the text of the Bureau of Meteorology article called "LOW-LEVEL SNOW". I found this on a forum on the internet and I don't know if it's word for word the original text of the Bureau article: http://www.alpinforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=12414 (scroll down the page to find it).


Low level snowfalls, though rare, have recurred throughout the century, and affected a surprisingly large area of the country. Some of the more memorable events follow:
On 5 July 1900, extremely heavy snow fell over central New South Wales, and elevations as low as 800 metres received nearly a metre of snow.
In Bathurst roofs, verandahs and lightly constructed buildings collapsed under the weight. Railway traffic out of Bathurst was paralysed, with passengers stranded in their carriages. Snow fell heavily to low elevations: at Forbes (240m elevation) 23 centimetres of snow covered the ground.

In a similar cold outbreak on 2-4 August 1943, snow fell over the eastern Riverina as far west as Lockhart. Tasmania’s Lyell and Lake Highways were closed for days, disrupting campaigning for a federal election. Heavy falls blanketed hilly parts of Victoria, and extended into northern NSW.

In winter 1951 snow blanketed most of Tasmania twice within three weeks (19-20 July and 9 August), blocking roads and interrupting mail services. On 9 August snow had to be shovelled from the streets of Queenstown (elevation 191metres). Light snow also fell in the streets and suburbs of Melbourne, and in Adelaide as well during the July event.

On 23 June 1981, large areas of western and northwestern Victoria were mantled in white. So much snow fell at lower levels of the Dividing Range that electricity transmission lines broke under the weight. In South Australia snow fell as far north as Wilpena and Blinman. Three years later (3 July 1984) snow extended from coastal western Victoria north along the Dividing Range to Stanthorpe and Toowoomba in Queensland. Sub-zero temperatures persisted at Armidale (northern NSW) for 36 hours.

Another two years later (early 25 July 1986) many Tasmanian locations had their heaviest snow on record. Most principal roads in Hobart were closed, effectively isolating the city until almost noon. Schools were shut for the day, and mail deliveries suspended. On the same day, snow fell in Melbourne and many suburbs, causing air traffic delays of up to four hours. Melting snow was observed in metropolitan Sydney, and further north at Gosford.

In southwestern Australia, there have been several occasions when wheatbelt towns have received a ground covering of snow. 26 June 1956 was particularly noteworthy, with low level snowfalls extending well north of Perth. Perhaps even more outstanding - because of the timing - were the snowfalls of 19 November 1992: virtually on the eve of summer, strong southerlies brought snow to many southern wheatbelt areas.

Finally, the not-widely-known event of 21 October 1995 was particularly impressive for the extent of its northward penetration across central Australia, and its occurrence in late spring. Snow fell to 200 metres above sea level over South Australia’s Flinders Ranges, and Broken Hill registered a maximum of just 5°C, its lowest recorded maximum in any month. This cold snap resulted in record low temperatures as far north as Wave Hill (in the Northern Territory).

In most cases the low level snow had gone within a day, with little economic dislocation. However, in some cases heavy losses occurred among recently shorn sheep and newly born lambs.


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