Years 2000 to 2016: Snowfalls Summary.

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Page 1: Years 2000 to 2011 Snowfalls Summary.
 
Link to page 2: 2012-2016 Snowfalls Summaries

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I'm confident I have found records of almost all of the snowfall events in South Australia that were reported in the media during the years 2000 to 2016. This page summarises the falls in the years 2000 to 2011. Page 2 summarises the falls in the years 2012 to 2016.

First though a word on the three biggest snowfall in the years 2000 to 2016, and the years without any known snowfalls for that 17 year period. 

These are my provisional placings for the three biggest snowfalls in terms of number of locations I found records of (locations being eg Peterborough, Crafers, Mt Lofty summit), number of regions (regions being eg Mid-North, southern Mt Lofty Ranges) and the amounts of snow reported.

I say provisional because there's only a limited amount of information to work with when making these kinds of assessments of snowfalls. Recording snowfalls and amounts is inherently a much more difficult enterprise than recording rainfalls and amounts, and we don't have a network of snow-recording guages such as we have for rain-recording guages. 

1. October 11th 2012 - biggest and best.
2. July 11th 2015 - not far behind the October 11th 2012 fall.
3. 27th May 2000 - reasonably confident this places third.

There were no falls in this 17 year period that I think would rate as likely to be among the biggest 25 falls in our recorded history if we knew everything about all snowfalls during that period.

At the other end of the spectrum, I found no reported sightings of what I can confidently say were South Australian snowflakes in 8 of the 17 years of the period 2000 to 2016, namely 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011. I don't know if that's the record snow no-shows for any 17 year period in our recorded history from 1837 to 1916 but I'll be surprised if it isn't.

We can take heart though in the knowledge that all of the most recent five years 2012 to 2016 experienced one or more snow events. There have been no reports of snow so far in 2017 up to July 25th as I write this, not even close, but we're still only about half way through the 2017 snow season.

One qualification I should make is that a year without recorded snowfalls is not necessarily a year when no snow fell. For example snow may fall on one of our tallest mountain peaks such as Mt Bryan, Mt Remarkable or Mt Brown where there are unlikely to be any observers to see and report it. Even on Mt Lofty the summit is closed to the public for several hours each night and it's unlikely a snowshower falling during that time would be reported.

Below: Years from 2000 to 2016 with one or more snowfalls (blue) and years without any known snowfalls (red) .



Now to the 2000 to 2011 year by year snowfall summary.

Year 2000: one snow event found.

I found records of only one snow event in the year 2000, on Saturday 27th May.

27th May 2000 Saturday: scattered reports of snowfalls in Mid-North, snow showers reported Mt Lofty district.

To read my full report on this snowfall click here (opens in new tab or window).

Summary

Rating : 4 or perhaps 5 on SA-wide 'snow distribution and amount' scale (min 1 to max 10).
Click Rating for explanation of rating scale.

Reports of snow at some widely scattered locations, most of them in the Mid-North, included Yongala, Hallett, Mt Bryan the mountain, Peterborough and Jamestown, and Mt Lofty, and somewhere in the South-East. Heaviest fall reported was at Mt Bryan the mountain. "Hallett farmer Tony Sumner said families had been tobogganing on rubber tubes since early morning."

Primary causes: A very deep low centred half-way between South Australia and Antarctica, and with a very long elongation north and south, brought a frigid air mass up its western side to southern South Australia from Antarctica. "Massive polar outbreak affects 5 states" and "A massive surge of polar air swept from South Australia into Victoria and New South Wales today [Saturday 27 May], bringing gales, snow, heavy rain and record low daytime temperatures."

Comments: Forecaster Graham Cowan said the snowfalls in the Mid North were only the third in 45 years [the third in 45 years in May]. The previous ones occurred in 1987 and in 1955".

Representative weather maps.

Below are Bureau of Meteorology mean sea level pressure charts for eastern standard time 4am and 10am snow-day May 27th 2000. The source was the Bureau's Analysis Chart Archive. No wonder it snowed, looking at that deep southerly fetch.




No photos or videos were found for this event.

End of summary of 27th May 2000 snowfall.

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Year 2001 - no snow events found.

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Year 2002 - no snow events found.

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Year 2003 - 3 snow events found.

This is the first of the three known 2003 snow events.

23rd into 25th July 2003: reports of isolated light snowfalls in Mid-North, Mt Remarkable, Crafers.

To read my full report on this snowfall click here and scroll down about one page length till you find the heading "23rd into the 25th July 2003." (opens in new tab or window).

Summary.

Rating: 3 on SA-wide 'snow distribution and amount' scale (min 1 to max 10).

A complex Southern Ocean low with an associated front and following cold pool resulted in hailshowers and isolated snow reports on Wednesday night 23rd July into Thursday 24th: report of light dusting of snow Mt Remarkable, report of snow falling but not settling on higher country around Clare, report of brief light snow near Crafers. Then a second front with a following cold pool crossed southern SA late Thursday 24th into Friday morning, with one report of light snow falling near Crafers and perhaps on the Mt Lofty summit.

Below is the Bureau of Meteorology mean sea level pressure chart for 10pm eastern standard time 23rd July 2003. There were isolated snow reports on Wednesday night 23rd July into Thursday 24th.



No photos or videos were found for this event.

End of summary of 23rd into 25th July 2003 snow event.

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This is the second of the three known 2003 snow events.

SNOW!!:10th August 2003 Snow in a northerly?!?!?!

(quote from Tim Thorpe on his website hillsrain.com)

To read my full report on this snowfall click here (opens in new tab or window).

Summary.

Rating : 4 or 5 on SA-wide 'snow distribution and amount' scale (min 1 to max 10).

On Sunday 10th August snow was reported from the southern Flinders Ranges (I don't know where in particular); and from the Mid-North near Moculta and at Whyte-Yarcowie and at Peterborough, Hallett and Jamestown and Yongala; in the Mount Lofty Ranges sleet with some flakes on the Mt Lofty summit, at Stirling ("It's 5.30 and snowing at Stirling, temp 3.5c outside!"), and the temperature at the Mt Crawford AWS fell to 0.1 degrees which suggests snow fell there; on Fleurieu Peninsula a few snowflakes were reported in the Bull Creek Ranges near Meadows. I deduce from a Bureau of Meteorology report that snow was reported from Ororoo. I red a second-hand report that the "ABC Radio reports snow in several hills locations".

Likely causes: Rare combination of meteorological factors (for SA): Cold night then high cloud becoming thicker during day, extensive areas of rain in the north-west of South Australia extending to most other districts. Snow from high cloud falling into drier air, with evaporative cooling of the snow lowering the air temperature until cold enough for snow to reach the ground on some of the highest parts of the Mid North, Flinders Ranges and Mt Lofty Ranges.

Below is the Bureau of Meteorology mean sea level pressure chart for 4pm eastern standard time Sunday 10th August 2003. Snow was falling during this afternoon.



No photos or videos were found for this event.

End of summary of 10th August 2003 snow event.

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This is the third of the three known 2003 snow events.

Saturday 30th August 2003: reports of snowfall at Crafers.

To read my full report on this snowfall click here (opens in new tab or window) and scroll down till you come to the heading "Saturday 30th August 2003: one report of snow."

Summary.

Rating : 1 on SA-wide 'snow distribution and amount' scale (min 1 to max 10).

I found one report of snow, from Crafers. "Proprietor of the Topz Shops deli on the main road, Jacqueline Ludgate, said it was a "gorgeous sight'' and the first snow she had seen there in two years."

Likely cause: very cold air mass from southern ocean flowing over southern Mt Lofty Ranges following the earlier passage of a cold front.

Below is the Bureau of Meteorology mean sea level pressure chart for 4am eastern standard time Saturday 30th August 2003. The only reference I saw to the time the snow fell at Crafers was "early" Saturday.



No photos or videos were found for this event.

End of summary of 30th August 2003 snow event.

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Year 2004 - no snow events found (or possibly one minor event).

This is the one possible snow event for 2004.

11th September 2004 snowflakes reported near Moculta.

To read my full report on this possible snowfall click here (opens in new tab or window).

Summary.

Rating : 1 on SA-wide 'snow distribution and amount' scale (min 1 to max 10).

A report from near Moculta: "At 8.30am we had a hail shower followed by rain and flakes of snow. The snow lasted for about 5 minutes but melted on hitting the ground."

Causes: the limited information I have is consistent with the cause being the passage of a post-frontal cold pool of air from the Southern Ocean.

End of summary of possible snow event on 11th September 2004.

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Year 2005.

I found reports of only one snow event in 2005, on Tuesday June 21st.

2005 June 21st: snowflakes on Mt Lofty and at Crafers.

To read my full report on this snowfall click here (opens in new tab or window).

Summary.

Rating : 1 on SA-wide 'snow distribution and amount' scale (min 1 to max 10). 

On 21st June 2005 hail, sleet and some snowflakes were reported from the summit of Mt Lofty, and snow was also reported from Crafers.

Likely causes: a complex low pressure system near Tasmania with a post-frontal passage of a very cold and unstable air mass from the Southern Ocean.

Below is the Bureau of Meteorology mean sea level pressure chart for 4pm eastern standard time 21st June 2005. I don't have exact times for observations of falling snow but apparently some time between 4 and 6 pm.



End of summary of 21st June 2005 snow event.

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Year 2006 - no snow events found.

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Year 2007 - no snow events found.

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Year 2008 - two snow events found: August 10th and 21st.

This is the first of the two known 2008 snow events.

2008 August 10th: local snow showers southern Mt Lofty Ranges.

To read my full report on this snowfall report click here (opens in new tab or window).

Summary.

Rating : 2 or 3 on SA-wide 'snow distribution and amount' scale (min 1 to max 10).

During the morning of 10th August 2008 a clear and unequivocal snow shower was observed on the summit of Mt Lofty by two snowchasers, and there were unverified reports of snow falling at or near Stirling, Crafers and Belair, and a report of snow being seen from a distance on Mt Remarkable.

Primary cause: a complex low pressure system near Tasmania and a post-frontal passage of a very cold and unstable air mass from the Southern Ocean.

A representative photo, video and weather map.

Below: Looking upwind into the oncoming snow around 8am on the summit of Mt Lofty. Photo Miles Peachfield.



Below: Link to a video by Dr Phil Bagust taken in the car park on the south side of the Mount Lofty summit during the snow shower around 810am."

video 2 mp4

Below is the Bureau of Meteorology mean sea level pressure chart for 10pm eastern standard time 9th June 2008. A snowshower was observed on the summit of Mt Lofty around 8am next morning 10th.



End of summary of 10th August 2008 snow event.

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This is the second of the two known 2008 snow events.

2008 August 21st: snow showers on Mt. Lofty and snow also reported from Uraidla and Stirling, and ?? "over the Flinders".

To read my full report on this snowfall click here (opens in new tab or window).

Summary.

Rating : 2 or 3 on SA-wide 'snow distribution and amount' scale (min 1 to max 10).

One or more snow showers, and showers which included snow, were seen falling on Mt Lofty from near sunset to late evening, sufficient for a white carpet to form. A snow shower was also reported from Uraidla and from Stirling. A second hand report indicated snow may have been reported from the Flinders Ranges district.

Primary cause: An intense high pressure system centred south of Western Australia at about the latitude of Bass Straight drove on its eastern side a very cold air-mass northwards from the Southern Ocean over South Australia, sufficiently cold to produce snow showers over the Mt Lofty district and hail showers more widely.

Representative photos and weather map.

Below: Snow photo courtesy of Rodney Wallbridge (pictured) showing falling snow near the summit of Mt Lofty on the night of 21st August. He said "At 9pm we jumped in the car in time to see just down the road a nice snow flurry which was dry!!".



Below: This photo shows what I think could fairly be described as a continuous ice-particle cover on the ground on Mt Lofty (other photos suggest a similar cover). Photographer: William Dean ("Willraja"), Mt Lofty, 21st August 2008.



Below is the Bureau of Meteorology mean sea level pressure chart for 10pm eastern standard time 21st August 2008. A snowshower was observed on Mt Lofty around 9pm central standard time that night.



End of summary of August 21st 2009 snow event.

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Years 2009, 2010 and 2011: three years in a row without any snow?

During the years 2009, 2010 and 2011 I kept a close eye on the weather and an ear on the grapevine and to the best of my knowledge there were no reports of what were unequivocally snow-flakes falling in South Australia in any of those years.

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Proceed to page 2: 2012-2016 Snowfalls Summaries

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