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2016 July 12th Tuesday: two or three snow showers Mt Lofty, isolated reports elsewhere in southern and central Lofties, and in Burra district in Mid-North.
(Second of two July snow events.)

Summary

On Tuesday morning 12th July showers of/with snow and/or sleet were observed by numerous visitors on and near the summit of Mount Lofty. I saw one or more reports from Mt Crawford the mountain, "the top of Tower Hill above Williamstown (630m asl)", Stirling, the summit of Mt Barker the mountain, Echunga, two second-hand reports from Kuitpo, Burra, and hill country north and south of Burra. I didn't see any reports from the Flinders Ranges or the South-East. A notable feature of some of the reports was the prominence of accompanying sleet and hail, making it difficult to determine both the purity of any snow showers and the composition of white ice on the ground both at a distance and close-up.

Primary cause: The primary cause was a very deep low pressure system with its main centre about half way between Mt Gambier and Antarctica and with a very unusually long elongation north-south. On its western flank was a high pressure system centred south-west of Perth and extending a ridge down towards Antarctica. The combination of these two systems drove below-freezing air north from Antarctica right up to our southern ranges where it was still just cold enough for snowflakes to reach some of the highest ground.

Rating on SA-wide 'snow distribution and amount' scale (min 1 to max 10) : 3½

End of summary

In the days preceding Tuesday 12th July 2016 anticipation grew that a very cold airmass forecast to cross the coast into southern South Australia on that day would bring some snow showers at least to the highest summits in the southern ranges.

On Tuesday morning 12th the very cold airmass from the deep south duly arrived over southern South Australia, accompanied by winds to gale-force in coastal and southern districts and widespread shower activity in the south. Small hail was widely reported, and showers of/with snow and/or sleet were extensively reported from Mount Lofty, and I saw one or more reports from Mt Crawford the mountain, Stirling, the summit of Mt Barker, Echunga, Burra, and hill country north and south of Burra.

The prospect of some snow falling was widely reported in the media for several days before the event and on the summit of Mt Lofty many hundreds of hopeful visitors came and went during the day.

I was on the summit from about 615am to very approx 5pm. There were occasional showers of hail, and I saw flakes among the hail on two or three occasions and once for a brief period after the hail. Whether these flakes were sleet or snow I was unable to tell.  There was only one shower mostly or all of snow, at approximately 310pm, with an entree of wind-driven hail. I guestimated the snowshower lasted about five minutes and then slowly tapered off over the next several minutes.

Looking at videos, I may have underestimated the percentage of flakes in the hail showers preceding the hail-then-snow shower, as the flakes were small and quickly vanished from sight in the windy conditions.

There was also at least one more snow shower reported on the summit of Mt Lofty when I was no longer there, during the hours of darkness on Tuesday night.

The hail was never dense enough to completely carpet the ground. Individual hail showers came and went pretty quickly. The snow melted almost immediately on the paved viewing area but did provide a brief appearance of patchy white in combination with the preceding hail in places on the verge where it fell on a grassy and plant-litter ground cover.

Due to the relentless wind which blew all day and was particularly strong during the showers, on the viewing area (where the obelisk is situated) the snowflakes didn't float down but usually were racing downwind as they fell. So the flakes usually don't show up on videos of the fall nearly as clearly as they do when it's snowing with only light to moderate winds. I was never in the car park area on the more sheltered side of the summit building and flakes may have fallen more gently there.

Fortunately for the numerous visitors, the hail showers although fairly brief were quite entertaining for the adults and more so for many of the children, being accompanied by strong winds sending some visitors running for cover and many others emerging from cover to make the most of the experience and take photos and videos.

I spent almost all of my time during the hail showers and the snow shower, out on the viewing area with my back to the driving wind. A feature of the sound tracks of my videos that's hard to miss is the background excited screaming of some of the children as they ran about, jumped, posed for photos and videos being taken by their elders, and covered their ears and necks against the beating hail. I didn't get much experience of the ambience in the crowded area under and near the extensive veranda or inside the building but videos taken by others in the veranda area tell of similar excitement there. 

In the Mid North snow-chaser Mark Dawson records there was a snow flurry in Burra on Tuesday afternoon. He posted onto the Weatherzone forums "Saw a brief settling of snow, or a mix of snow and hail on the hills north of Burra down to around 700m, with small hail drifts accumulated on the sides of the roads much lower. Some real spanking hail showers and damaging winds, but nothing quite like the hills saw today. It did however, on the tail end of particularly nasty cell snow in Burra itself, which is only around 500m above sea level so it shows the coldness was there, just not the moisture unfortunately. Other reports I've heard, are near and around Mount Crawford, and a brief period on Lofty itself, though I'm sure many other peaks would have seen the odd flurry."

He posted onto Facebook on July 12 at about 1:05pm that the Burra hills above 700m look to have a very light dusting of snow and cautioned that he couldn't be sure it was snow as there were small hail drifts on the roadside and it was sleeting. 

Stuarte Milde posted onto Facebook that it snowed for 5 minutes near Princess Royal station just south of Burra.
 
"Burra and Goyder Visitor Information Centre" posted onto their Facebook page here at 142pm July 12th: "Light snow is falling in Burra today!" along with two photos showing some whitish patches on the ground in a park. Whether it's predominantly snow or hail-sleet on the ground I'm unable to tell. In "comments" in this thread Coralie White posted at July 12 at 3:00pm "Can now say I have seen snow at Burra - very, very light, but it was snow!!"

I've seen an impressive photo of a light snow or hail or sleet cover on the upper slopes of Mt Cone north or Burra.

Due to the very inclement weather on the day I'd be a bit surprised if anyone was on the summit of Mt Bryan, or at least not for any length of time, so whether it snowed on the summit or on the Mt Bryan Range more generally, we may never know. It seems likely snow did fall on the summit and the higher parts of the range given it did fall in much lower Burra. This also applies to the higher ground and summits elsewhere in the Mid-North.

I haven't seen any records of snow from the Flinders Ranges but there's plenty of summits and high ground there which was above the forecast snow level of 500 metres so again it may well have fallen in various locations without anyone reporting it. 

If I find any more reports or photos relevant to snow in the Mid-North or the Flinders Ranges I'll add them, but as at 130pm 25th July the above are the only ones I've seen to date.

A search of Facebook found some posts from various locations in the Adelaide Hills showing hail cover on roads, on gardens, and on vehicles.

Gunhild Jonsson posted "Wild weather in the Adelaide Hills today! Hail in Mt Barker and snow in Stirling (Ok, it was a snowfall that lasted about 20 seconds but it was definitely snow!)."

On the day showers with a substantial amount of hail fell widely across the central districts and the hail lay on the ground and roads etc for some time afterwards, and on high ground in the southern ranges sleet was also reported from some of the showers, and the wind during the showers was strong and gusty and locally reached gale force, making it more difficult to determine what kinds of ice particles and flakes were falling. So inevitably some of the reports of snow on social media and elsewhere either were or may have been cases of mistaken identity.

A hailstorm passed over Hahndorf during the afternoon and gave the town a very photogenic and impressive carpet of white. This was misinterpreted by some as snow and soon photos labelled as showing snow in Hahndorf were being enthusiastically shared around as you might imagine.

This reached what was probably its zenith when a popular Australian weather page on Facebook "John's Weather Channel" posted four of these photos claiming to be of snow in Hahndorf with the comment "Wow! Winter wonderland! That is snow, Hahndorf (near 400 metres asl), Adelaide hills! South Australia. This area has copped it!!" This post received 388 likes etc and 259 shares!.

The post in question was here when I last looked.

It's a cautionary tale and a good demonstration of how quickly misinformation relating to the weather can spread on the internet.

Before I post any other videos taken on the day, the two videos below by Michael Sparrow during the snow shower on Mt Lofty shows the nature of the snowflakes in that shower better than any other video I've seen. They were filmed just outside the main entrance to the building complex (on its south-eastern side or main car park side). Judging from these videos it was pretty well sheltered there from the strong winds prevailing on the observation area where I was videoing. So some of the snowflakes tended to swirl around relatively slowly. Out on the observation area on the obelisk side of the building complex the snowflakes were mostly making rapid beelines downwind.

Here's a still from one of the videos showing the size of a sample of flakes collected by an unwitting sampler. We don't know how long the sampler was out in the snow prior to the video being filmed but the snowflakes falling during that time seem to be quite small.



The links to these videos on YouTube are
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1v2j18ApVEA
and
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fm5Vg7FAp8E

To see the snowflakes clearly I recommend watching the videos fullscreen.

Now to some videos I filmed on the summit of Mt Lofty on Tuesday 12th July.

I recommend watching these in fullscreen or similar if your viewing screen allows it, particularly as the outdoor viewing area on the summit is quite favorable for three-dimensional viewing when there are people scattered around. There's no copyright restrictions on any of my videos posted onto this page but mention of Miles Peachfield as the photographer would be appreciated.

Below: "Falling snow and excited visitors on Mt Lofty summit 12th July 2016."
 Some of the fortunate visitors to the summit of Mt Lofty South Australia on 12th July 2016 scored a timing bullseye and experienced a very uncommon daylight snow shower. This happens on average about once or twice a year on the summit. Time: about 310pm. Photographer: Miles Peachfield.

45 MB mp4 file - best quality

23 MB mp4 file - good quality

Or watch on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiLqd96txBE



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Below: "Snowshower enjoyed by very excited visitors : Mt Lofty summit 12th July 2016."
It's snowing and very excited visitors seize the opportunity to come out and experience it eye to eye! On the summit of Mount Lofty in South Australia, 12th July 2016 at about 314pm. This is my video I think best captures the atmosphere prevailing during this snow shower outdoors on the viewing arena.

37 MB mp4 file - best quality

19 MB mp4 file - good quality

Or watch on Youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWssy5q3HwM







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Below: "Falling snow with dark background - Mt Lofty summit 12th July 2016". About 312pm.
I wanted to get as good a record as I could of what the falling snow looked like. So I aimed the camera at an area of darkish native vegetation just off the approx north-eastern edge of the paved viewing arena, and this video is the result. The flakes look and behaves to my eyes as small wind-driven snowflakes and not like any other kinds of icy particles such as graupel or sleet. Also during the snow shower I didn't hear any pings from my camera such as are made when hail or other solid ice particles strike it. In the excitement of the snow fall I didn't get to take any close-up photos of the flakes so can't vouch for their being "pure as the driven snow". I can most definitely vouch for them being driven however.

In retrospect I could have chosen a more sheltered location to video as good a record as I could of what the falling snow looked like. The wind was too strong and the flakes were small and were moving too fast away from the camera for this location to be suitable in these conditions. The dark background is good and has proved in the past to be quite suited to the task in much lighter winds. However searching for better locations requires time and my experience of snowshowers on the summit is that one may only have a few minutes of snow to film in and then it's gone, so even if I'd thought to look for a less windy location I probably wouldn't have chanced it.

25 MB mp4 video file - best quality viewing

13 MB mp4 video file - good quality viewing

Or watch on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_p4C1Ftjr64



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Below: "Snow day Mt Lofty summit 12th July 2016: the relentless wind!". About 1214pm.
The relentless wind was a major player on the Mt Lofty summit stage. So the small hailstones and snowflakes generally raced downwind as they fell rather than gently falling earthwards. Hail stung the necks and ears of anyone not well protected! Video taken about 1214pm by Miles Peachfield.

17 MB mp4 video file - best quality viewing

9 MB mp4 video file - good quality viewing

Or watch on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hoNJZ_coRU0 



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Below: "Another wind-driven shower arrives, providing various challenges for the participants. 1216pm" Tuesday July 16th 2016, Mount Lofty summit in South Australia. Best viewed in fullscreen. Photographer Miles Peachfield.

28 MB mp4 video file - best quality viewing

14 MB mp4 video file - good quality viewing

Or watch on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQP-1EwIDS0 



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Below: "Wind-driven hail scatters visitors summit Mt Lofty 12th July 2016." About 133pm.

Someone's good deed for the day :-) Filmed during a wind-driven hail shower on the summit of Mount Lofty in South Australia, on the afternoon of 12th July 2016 at about 133pm. Photographer: Miles Peachfield.

24 MB mp4 video file - best quality viewing

12 MB mp4 video file - good quality viewing

Or watch on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqivoB-PSuk 



Below: "Mt Lofty 12th July 2016 hail gale sends visitors scurrying!" About 310pm.
The snow shower at around 310pm 12th July 2016 on the summit of Mt Lofty in South Australia, started with a sudden and spectacular burst of hail driven by very strong winds, sending people on the lookout area scurrying for cover! Watch fullscreen for best viewing. Photographer: Miles Peachfield.

28 MB mp4 video file - best quality viewing

14 MB mp4 video file - good quality viewing

Or watch on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYAAun_LTxQ

Below: Oops!


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Now to some videos taken by others.

Below: "Hail storm at Mount Lofty SA just before light snow shower 12th July, 2016. 3pm"
Author: Gilbert De Lorenzo
Posted onto Youtube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceSG811qa2I

Below: two screengrabs from the video:





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Below: Amelia Mulcahy filmed a roaming mobile phone video during the snow shower on the summit of Mt Lofty on "July 12 at 308pm". It captures the excitement of the milling visitors well and includes footage that will assist anyone looking for evidence of the "snowiness" of the falling flakes. The video is a bit challenging for the eyes as the camera is panned around hither and thither with happy abandon.

Some details:
"Amelia Mulcahy was live."
"July 12 at 308pm."
"THE REAL THING! Snow at Mount Lofty! ???"
AmeliaMulcahy308pm12716Lofty
It's a 19.4 mb MP4 file.
Thanks to "South Australian Weather" for posting the link onto the "South Australian Weather" page on Facebook where I found it.

Jason Hywood took a slow-motion video on the Mt Lofty summit at 1209pm. He posted it onto the Facebook page he founded "South Australian Weather", here Jason Hywood slomo video along with the caption "I forgot I filmed this on my phone. It was 11.12am on Tuesday up Mt Lofty, I stupidly filmed it against a white sky but you can still see the flakes being blown around. Better in HD".

Rob McMahon videoed flakes falling on what looks to my eye like Summit Road near the television towers. The video is captioned "Mt Lofty Tuesday about 3.15", and provides a good illustration of how well falling snowflakes can show up in daylight against a darkish background, in this case pine trees. The video can be seen here RobMcMahonvideoLofty12716

Here again are the links on YouTube to Michael Sparrow's two videos taken on the relatively sheltered south-eastern side of the Mt Lofty summit building complex:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1v2j18ApVEA
and
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fm5Vg7FAp8E

John Ruciak posted a video onto YouTube titled "Snow Flurries 2016 07 12", location "Near Lofty", showing a shower of or with snow swirling around a vehicle in a pretty strong wind by the looks, and with some of the snowflakes on the sheltered side of the vehicle briefly trapped in light air and floating around. I suggest watching this video on YouTube in fullscreen and observing the behavior of the flakes in the strong wind and on the sheltered leeward side. Fortunately the color of the vehicle is dark blue so the snowflakes show up well.

Kyle Howard videod falling snow on Tuesday at 2:21pm at Mount Crawford, in very strong and gusty winds. It's here KyleHowardMtCrawford12716 and it's accompanied by the text "One of the best captures for the year - Snow in the Northern parts of the Adelaide Hills, winds gusting at 110km/h possibly up to 115km/h when this was taken, almost lost my footing. That video was taken at 2:21pm at Mount Crawford At the time the AWS was sitting at 92km/h, the 115 is an approximate wind but it was surely strong going by how the trees were going and the howling of the tower near by. Temperature at the time of the video plummeted to 1.1°C leaving the windchill at -10°C
Video Copyright Kyle Howard 2016 Awesomeography".

In a personal communication with me Kyle said "That video was taken at 2:21pm at Mount Crawford At the time the AWS was sitting at 92km/h, the 115 is an approximate wind but it was surely strong going by how the trees were going and the howling of the tower near by. Temperature at the time of the video plummeted to 1.1°C leaving the windchill at -10°C ...". Eek!

Wikipedia in its "List of mountains in Australia" article gives the height of Mt Crawford as 560 metres, and the Bureau of Meteorology gives the height of the Mount Crawford automatic weather station as 525 metres.

A search on Twitter putting snow "mt lofty" into the Twitter search window https://twitter.com/search?src=typd&q=snow%20%22mt%20lofty%22 found for this July 12th snowfall many posts and various videos, and relevant animations and messages from the Bureau of Meteorology.

Below are four photos I took in the time interval about 306 to 308pm Tuesday 12th July 2016. They are of the right-hand part (as I observed it) of the approaching shower that produced the hail and then snow. These were taken on automatic exposure and fortunately the brightness of the approaching shower cloud and the landscape were reasonably similar, so the images are pretty close to what I was seeing. It was quite an impressive sight and I wasn't surprised hail and then snow fell. I'd like to have seen and photographed the top of the shower cloud but lower cloud was obscuring it.









Now to some radar and satellite image loops and data and charts relating to the snowfall.

Below: A chart from Weatherzone via the Facebook page "Mid North Storms" showing the path of the very cold air from Antarctica to southern South Australia. (I don't know who added the black visuals.) I think that the configuration of weather systems shown here, in particular the north-south elongations of both the low, and the high to the west of the low, providing this pathway from Antarctica to southern South Australia would be very uncommon.  



Now a link to a very good video "Antarctic Storm underneath Australia heading south of New Zealand" by "Wellington Severe Weather Reports". Using a satellite image loop with commentary it shows very clearly the air flowing from Antarctica to southern Australia. It needs to be watched in fullscreen for best viewing.

Below is a link to a satellite loop for the hours 1400 UTC Monday 11th to 1400 UTC Tuesday 12th (which is half an hour before midnight Monday to half an hour before midnight Tuesday local time). It's a gif file about 22 mb in size, made by copying all files from the archive loop for this time period, from the RAMSDIS Online Archive, and pasting them into a gif file creator.
Source: RAMSDIS Online Archive
himawari-8/himawari-8_band_13_sector_04
satellite image loop for 1130pm 11th to 1130pm 12th July 2016

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Radar loops: source "The Weather Chaser" website theweatherchaser.com .

256km Buckland Park Radar loop 4am Tuesday 12th July to 4am Wednesday 13th July 2016.

See : 256 km Radar Loop for Adelaide (Buckland Park), 04:00 12/07/2016 to 04:00 13/07/2016 UTC

 

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64km Buckland Park Radar loop 4am Tuesday 12th July to 4am Wednesday 13th July 2016.

See : 64 km Radar Loop for Adelaide (Buckland Park), 04:00 12/07/2016 to 04:00 13/07/2016 UTC 
 



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512km Buckland Park Radar loop 4am Tuesday 12th July to 4am Wednesday 13th July 2016.

See : 512 km Radar Loop for Adelaide (Buckland Park), 04:00 12/07/2016 to 04:00 13/07/2016 UTC



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At the Mt Lofty automatic weather station (not located at the summit and lower in altitude) the minimum for the period 900am Monday 11th to 900am Tuesday 12th was 1.4 degrees (from BoM records). The ABC reported that the temperature dropped as low as 1.4 degrees Celsius at Mount Lofty just after 7:00am. The ABC reports that the Bureau of Meteorology said the temperature dropped to 0.6 degrees Celsius at the summit on Tuesday but didn't say what time. Low readings at the automatic weather station for Tuesday later than 9am included 1.9 degrees at 1030am, 1.4 at 1230pm, 1.6 at 330pm, 1.9 at 700pm, and 2.0 at 900pm. So it was a very cold day on Mt Lofty during the whole of the daylight hours and into the evening, but it didn't fall to zero degrees at any time.

"Weather Observations for Mount Lofty
IDS60801
Issued at 5:02 am CST Wednesday 13 July 2016 ...
Station Details ID: 023842 Name: MOUNT LOFTY Lat: -34.98 Lon: 138.71 Height: 685.0 m "

For 700pm 11th to 500am 13th July 2016





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Below: MSLP Analysis (Manual) Australian Region charts:
Source: http://www.bom.gov.au/australia/charts/archive/index.shtml
Bureau Home > Australia > Weather Maps > Archive > MSLP Analysis (Manual) Australian Region



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Below: 500 hPa Analysis, Australian Region charts.
Source: http://www.bom.gov.au/australia/charts/archive/index.shtml

Bureau Home > Australia > Weather Maps > Archive > 500 hPa Analysis, Australian Region

 

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Some relevant Weatherzone forum posts.

The relevant Weatherzone forum thread for this weather event is "SA - Cold front following Cold Pool July 9th to 15th July".

Posts include reports of snow seen from two locations I haven't seen elsewhere in dispatches, namely a first-hand account from snowchaser paisley (Dr Phil Bagust) from Tower Hill near Williamstown, and secondhand reports from Kuitpo.

Below are the most snow-relevant posts I could find in the thread (other than mine). I copied these posts from the forum on 9th February 2017 so I don't know how the times of postings relate to the actual central standard times they were posted on.

*jr* #1382055 - 12/07/2016 01:42 PM
One or two flakes at the summit around 12.30..about as borderline as you can get. Now at the Aldgate pizza bar warning up.

*jr* #1382078 - 12/07/2016 04:48 PM
"Near Lofty"
and an embedded video *jr* posted onto YouTube titled "Snow Flurries 2016 07 12".

paisley #1382070 - 12/07/2016 03:38 PM
"Spent the morning on the top of Tower Hill above Williamstown (630m asl).
Airstream stayed westerly longer than I'd hoped. ... .
3 squall lines came through, the first with a thunderstorm, sharp edged ice pellets and some snow flurries after, the second with a LOT of ice pellets and more snow flurries after, the third mostly just with an absolute hurricane force wind. Beautiful, but nothing looked like it would stick. Not enough southerly fetch yet?
Tomorrow morning might be a chance if it hasn't dried out totally by then. Will post a few shots in a bit...
P"

teckert (Tim Eckert) #1382111 - 12/07/2016 07:14 PM
"I've had 2 seperate reports of snow falling at Kuitpo today."

Jetfire #1382113 - 12/07/2016 07:18 PM
Snow flurry at lofty now.

Jetfire #1382259 - 13/07/2016 07:12 PM
" ... I got to Mt Lofty summit about 6:00pm ish. It was very cold and windy but no rain or hail. I was surprised at the amount of people there, even channel 7 & 9 had trucks up there, presumably to do the weather segment.
Then just after 6:30pm while sitting in the car park, I noticed some snow flakes falling so we walked up to the observation area and there were quite few little snow flakes falling and tumbling around in thee wind. Nothing settled on the ground though and then after about 10 minutes the flurry stopped. ... "

End of report.

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