2014 June 28th: Snow on the summit of Mt Bryan in the Mid-North.

As seen, experienced and photographed by the Friends of the Heysen Trail End-to-End 'Minus 1' group of hikers.

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Summary

On 28th June 2014 snow fell on Mt Bryan in Mid-North, sufficient to lay a carpet near the summit where it wasn't swept away by the wind, experienced and photographed by Friends of the Heysen Trail End-to-End 'Minus 1' group of hikers. I found a reference to snow on the day at only one other location - a second-hand report of snow "Apparently around terowie ... ".

Rating on minimum 1 to maximum 10 scale: 3

Primary cause: a low pressure system with one centre just south of Tasmania and another a long way further south combined with a high pressure system in the western Bight ridging to the south-east to bring a very cold air mass over southern South Australia from the Southern Ocean.

Comments: One of the best snow adventures in South Australia I've found for any snow event. Without these intrepid hikers continuing their ascent to the summit in freezing conditions we would know next to nothing about this snowfall, maybe only a second-hand report about snow at Terowie!

End of summary

This account by the Friends of the Heysen Trail End-to-End 'Minus 1' group of hikers is the only first-hand experience of snow on Mt Bryan on that day I could find. And what an experience it was! The group ascended along thye Heysen Trail from the western side through heavy rain, sometimes with hail and sleet, and snow at times as they ascended. On the summit there was falling snow driven by strong winds and a carpet of snow on the ground.

The only report I've seen of snow falling elsewhere in South Australia on this day was a second-hand report by Paul Batchelor on Facebook "Apparently around terowie this afternoon too."

I checked on 8th July 2017 and found the photos below on 'The Heysen Trail' Facebook page in this album along with the following text:
{quote} "Snow on Mt Bryan, End-to-End Minus 1 group (6 photos)"
"The Friends of the Heysen Trail End-to-End 'Minus 1' group experienced snow on the summit of Mt Bryan yesterday. At 936 metres Mt Bryan, north of Burra, is the highest peak in the Mt Lofty Ranges and occasionally sees a snow fall. The group is spending 5 days hiking the trail this week from Hallett to south of Burra. Keep warm guys!
The photos look more like Tasmania, rather than from where they are in the Mid North of South Australia! Thanks for the photos Robert Alcock and Michael Middleton". {end quote}

There's a much more extensive collection of their photos from the hike in this Google archive:
"Heysen Trail End2End-1 Mt Bryan SNOW & blizzard 28June14".

In an article in the Northern Argus here it says "A group from Adelaide hiking the Heysen Trail did not expect to encounter snow on their walk at Mount Bryan last Saturday. The “Friends of the Heysen Trail, End to End” group, had been walking the trail from north to south, covering small distances over weekends and occasional longer stints. On Saturday morning they checked the weather forecast for Burra before heading off, which was for 10 degrees and 1 to 8 mm of rain. As they ascended Mt Bryan they were subjected to heavy downpours, then hail and sleet, and finally near the summit snow driven horizontal by gale force winds.

“We’d never experienced conditions like this previously along the trail, and definitely did not expect it.” Robert Alcock said.

Although the group found the conditions bitterly cold and the snow stung their skin, Mr Alcock said it was all part of the challenge of the trail and the group was back out walking on Sunday.

Fortunately rather than sleeping along the trail the hikers were staying in Burra overnight and driving back out to the trail in the morning.

Flooded roads meant the group could not reach their planned starting point by car, and they had to reschedule their plans, walking the trail in non-consecutive sections over the week." {End of quote from the Northern Argus article.}



Above: Robert Alcock, President of the 'Friends of the Heysen Trail' sitting in the stone chair, and fellow members of the End-to-End Minus 1 group on the summit of Mt Bryan on Saturday 28th June 2014.



Above: On the summit. Robert Alcock (right), with the stone chair in the upper right looking out over the eastern face of Mt Bryan to the countryside below.



Above: "Finally, a second use for hiking poles".



Above: "Hiking the descent of the eastern face of the state's Mid North summit of Mt Bryan after snowfall on Sat 28th June"

There was some local flooding observed in the area by the hikers when they had descended the east side of Mt Bryan after summiting, and there's a photo "Lots of rainfall, photo from Michael Middleton of nearby road between Mt Bryan and Mt Bryan East" on this page (scroll down).

Click on the following link to set in motion the radar loop for 240am EST Saturday 28th to 530pm EST Saturday 28th, thanks to BoM and The Weather Chaser website: http://www.theweatherchaser.com/radar-loop/IDR642-adelaide-buckland-park/2014-06-27-17/2014-06-28-08

Click on the following link to set in motion the much longer radar loop for 10am EST 27th June 2014 to 10am EST 29th June 2014
http://www.theweatherchaser.com/radar-loop/IDR642-adelaide-buckland-park/2014-06-27-00/2014-06-29-23

I don't know how much rain fell on Mt Bryan the mountain on Saturday 28th June but it was a substantial amount. The nearby town Mt Bryan recorded 30.0 mm in the 24 hours to 9am Saturday 28th, and 18.6 mm in the 24 hours to 9am Sunday 29th (records from Bureau of Meteorology website). The Heysen Trail walk up to the summit from the west side where the hikers ascended is ideally suited to orographic enhancement of rainfall. It's also fully exposed to wind from the westerly half of the compass for most of its length!

Below are nine Bureau of Meteorology surface weather charts, issued at 4 hour intervals from 10am EST 27th June 2014 to 10am EST 29th June 2014 (the dates and times in eastern standard time are on each chart).



I've put on this separate page 10 enhanced infra-red satellite images taken at one hour intervals from 903am to 603pm Saturday 28th June 2014. To find out when these satpics were taken, look in the top of the images for the UTC time and add 9 hours 30 minutes to get SA central standard time.

There's some useful discussion on the South Australian weather forum thread "SA - Cold front and Low Pressure System Friday June 27 - June 30" starting with the post by StormCapture #1268023 - 28/06/2014 10:34 PM (scroll down the page) "I've read on some of the SA weather facebook pages that snow was reported on Mt Bryan ..."

Below is the weather data recorded every half hour by the Clare automatic weather station for Saturday 28th June 2014. The maximum and minimum temperatures given for Clare for 28th are 7.3 and 5.1 degrees. "Markus" Mark Dawson on the Weatherzone forums says this in the record low maximum for June in Clare.
Data from Bureau of Meteorology website.





I haven't seen any reports of snow falling at the Mt Lofty summit on Saturday 28th June. Below is the weather data recorded every half hour by the Mt Lofty automatic weather station near the summit of Mt Lofty for Saturday 28th June 2014. The lowest temperature recorded is 3.9 degrees at 830am. I haven't been able to find the 24 hours to 9am Saturday minimum but if I remember correctly it wasn't significantly below that figure. The minimum for the 24 hours to 9am Sunday 29th was 4.1 degrees (source Australian Weather News website). That would usually be too warm for snow to reach the ground if it fell from shower clouds above the summit on the day.






End of report.

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