South-east Australia braces for cold front with rain, snow and damaging winds

Polar winds, blizzards, floods and one of the worst storms this season are poised to sweep across south-eastern Australia on Wednesday, affecting parts of South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales.

A cold front will bring rain, hail and snow, with severe weather and flood warnings issued for all three states. Damaging winds – from 80km/h to 120km/h – will also hit affected areas.

In the snowfields and alpine regions of NSW, blizzards will descend over areas above 1,700m, according to the Bureau of Meteorology, starting from Wednesday night.

There will be a second cold front over the weekend, which will bring more damaging winds. This is expected to affect Thredbo and Perisher – as well as Nowra, Bowral, Batemans Bay, Katoomba and Lithgow.

Victorian police warned of gale force winds and a snow dump of up to 1m in areas including Mount Buller, Hotham, Falls Creek and Mount Baw Baw.

In South Australia, the bureau warned that “one of the strongest cold fronts so far this winter” would hit the state on Wednesday afternoon.

In southern parts, gusts could reach over 125km/h.

“The front will bring damaging winds, squally showers and thunderstorms to much of the southern half of the state,” the bureau warned said.

Senior forecaster Matt Bass said damaging winds would hit “a broad area of the state” – south of Streaky Bay to Port Pirie to Renmark – including Adelaide.

Trevor Arnold, the chief of staff for the State Emergency Service, said it could cause “minor street flooding”.

“We’re urging motorists to not drive, ride or walk through floodwater and keep clear of creeks and storm drains,” he said.

In Victoria, regional areas will also be hit with thunderstorms and damaging winds, including Hamilton, Warrnambool, Ballarat and Falls Creek.

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