Queenslanders have faced extremes of fire and sleet during a wild day of weather that delivered the state’s coldest September day in half a decade.
The Bureau of Meteorology said an “energetic” air mass from the south was to blame for Tuesday’s chill, which saw the apparent temperature in Toowoomba drop to minus two degrees at midnight.
Sleet fell on Queensland’s Granite Belt, where the temperature dropped below one degree.
Ridgemill Estate winery owner, Martin Cooper, said it caught him by surprise.
“Although I was on the mower for a couple of hours and it was so bloody cold — the wind — that I went and put a second jacket on, I was still cold,” Mr Cooper said.
“The wind has been ferocious.
“It would be nice if it was snow I guess, but it’s still cold, wet stuff.”
Julia Metcalfe from Mount Tully, south of Stanthorpe, recorded a small amount of snow falling in her backyard.
“We were privileged to have the real stuff,” she said.
“At one point it was sunny behind the shed and snowing on the house.”
Winds rouse fire
While Southern Downs residents were rugging up against the sleet, firefighters battled a blaze at Gregors Creek, just north of Toogoolawah in the Somerset region.
Rural Fire Service regional manager Alan Gillespie said winds up to 70kph stirred up the fire, which was believed to have been illegally lit days ago.
“It was just really, really windy, very dry. The fire behaviour was quite erratic,” he said.
“The valley was full of smoke so our air aircraft just couldn’t see.”
Mr Gillespie said crews contained the fire on Tuesday afternoon and have turned their focus on further containment ahead of very high fire danger predicted for Saturday.
He said it was strange to be dealing with fire while his colleagues in the state’s south sent him videos of the snow.
“It is the paradox that is Queensland,” he said.
“That’s just the reality of the size and diversity of our state.”
‘Bitter’ spring weather
BoM forecaster Helen Reid said temperatures across the state had been unseasonably low.
“It’s been such a wintry air mass … it’s also pushed all the way through to the north — it’s got that much energy in it,” she said.
“Yesterday’s temperatures during the daytime were about the coldest September day for about five or six years.
“We had temperatures about four or five degrees below what you’d expect for September.
“Those winds just take it a bit lower so what it feels like … is bitter.”
The wintry weather is expected to continue with the BoM forecasting a very slight chance of late-season frost about the Atherton Tablelands and southern tropics on Wednesday and possibly Thursday.
It said a trough may help to draw moisture inland late in the weekend and early next week, returning the chance of showers to the southeast from Sunday and possible showers and thunderstorms to the southern interior from Monday.
“Those winds are still going to be very chilly from the south,” Ms Reid said.
“Tomorrow we can look forward to a decrease in those winds but those frosty temperatures in the morning are going to continue.”
In southern Queensland, temperatures are expected to increase gradually after another below-average day today.
“By the time we get to the weekend we’re looking at some places heading to around the 30-degree mark,” Ms Reid said.
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“It will be quite a beautiful weekend.”