Where are the coldest places in Tasmania and why are they so cold?

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Overall, Tasmania is colder than most other Australian states and territories.

But locally, there is significant variation in winter temperatures across Tasmania.

Where are the coldest places?

Liawenee in the state’s central highlands holds the current record for the lowest temperature seen in the state.

On August 7, 2020, the temperature in Liawenee fell to -14.2 degrees Celsius, more than 1°C lower than the previous state record.

Three sites, also in the central highlands, share second place for the lowest temperature ever recorded in Tasmania with -13.0°C on June 30, 1983 – Tarraleah Village, Butlers Gorge and Shannon Hydro-Electric Corporation (CET).

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Tasmania is the coldest state in Australia overall, as it is closer to the polar zone than other Australian states and territories, and experiences more frequent bursts of cold Antarctic air.

The coldest nights occur when conditions are clear and calm, especially if there is snow.

Under such conditions, dense, cold air flows down slopes, so valley and plateau locations above the snowline have lower extreme minimum temperatures than summit sites. mountains.

For example, the record low at kunanyi/Mount Wellington is a relatively modest -8.1°C.

Snow on Kunanyi/Mt Wellington seen from Bellerive Beach, Tasmania. August 16, 2021.(Provided: Nathalia Secco)

The central highlands generally have the lowest temperatures in Tasmania due to their relatively high altitude, local topography and distance from the coast.

The Liawenee weather station is 1,057 meters above sea level, higher than the previous three record-holding sites.

Coldest temperatures (until December 31, 2021)

RANK

°C

DATE

WEATHER STATION NAME

1

-14.2

August 7, 2020

Liawenee

2

-13

June 30, 1983

Tarraleah Village

3

-13

June 30, 1983

Butlers Throat

4

-13

June 30, 1983

Shannon HEC

5

-12.5

July 1, 1983

Butlers Throat

6

-12.5

June 24, 1972

Bothwell (Franklin Street)

seven

-12.2

July 9, 2013

Liawenee

8

-12.2

June 24, 1972

Town of Campbell

9

-11.9

June 24, 1972

Palmerston

ten

-11.7

August 10, 2020

Liawenee

ten

-11.7

June 24, 1972

Oatlands Post Office

Source: nomenclature

Ray and Linda Robertson at Vinces Saddle
Cold fun in the snow for Ray and Linda Robertson.(ABC News: Rhiannon Shine)

What causes a major low-level snow event and how often does it occur?

In order for the snow to fall to low levels, the air must be much cooler than usual.

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The coldest air in the Tasmanian region comes from the south, straight from Antarctica.

A cold front associated with a low pressure system, or trough, moving across Tasmania can carry supercooled Antarctic air from the south over the state.

A cold front is the boundary between a relatively cold air mass and a warmer air mass.

Cold fronts slant upward with height, so they “trap” under the warmer air, lifting it up. If this warmer air is humid, the water vapor condenses to form a cloud.

This is why rain often accompanies a cold front. Snow can form behind the cold front in the cooler air.

Low level snowfall on kunanyi/Mount Wellington is not uncommon, impacting mountain roads and residents.

An empty highway with snow settling on either side
Vinces Saddle in southern Tasmania can be tricky for motorists in the cold months.(Provided: Nick Monk)

Snow rarely settles at sea level.

However, on November 15, 2021, snow fell to sea level in parts of southern Tasmania, settling on the ground up to around 200 meters above sea level in suburban Hobart.

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It was Hobart’s coldest November morning since 1953.

In rare situations, snow at low altitudes can fall further north, although in south westerly winds, northern Tasmania often remains dry, although the air is cold enough for snow as the humidity is blocked by mountains.

In August 2020, during the same week that Liawenee set the current record for the lowest temperature in Tasmania, snow settled on the ground in Launceston.

This is the region’s heaviest snowfall since 1921.

Man in a spray jacket on a snow covered mountain.
The look on Piotr Babis’ face says it all.(Provided: Piotr Babis)

How does Tasmania compare to Antarctica and the rest of the country?

Average minimum temperatures in Tasmania in winter are comparable to temperatures in places like northeastern Victoria and southeastern New South Wales.

Average daily minimum temperature over Australia chart.
Map showing average daily minimum temperatures during winter, over the period 1961 to 1990.(meteorological office)

At 1755 meters above sea level, the Charlotte Pass weather station (Kosciuszko Chalet) in New South Wales, holds the current record for the lowest temperature observed in Australia, with -23.0C on June 29, 1994.

Snow covers the ground and the trees
Pretty as a picture at the Great Lake Hotel in Tasmania’s central highlands.(Provided: John Warden)

The Charlotte Pass site is at the bottom of a deep valley and is ideally located for extremely low temperatures.

Australia’s Antarctic Territory is getting even colder.

The Bureau’s weather station at Davis Station on the Antarctic coast has an average winter minimum temperature of -20.1°C.

The lowest temperature ever recorded in Davis is -41.8 C, recorded on April 27, 1998.

Temperatures are even lower on the Antarctic plateau. Vostok Station, operated by Russia but located in the Australian Antarctic Territory, recorded the lowest known temperature in the world, -89.2°C on July 21, 1983.

Photo of snow drive at Collins Cap, Collinsvale Tasmani.  August 16, 2021.
Snow at Collins Cap, Collinsvale, Tasmania in August 2021.(Provided: Lily Taylor)

Changes in Tasmania’s temperatures over time

Tasmania has experienced a warming trend in winter temperatures since around 1950.

Tasmania’s ten warmest winters since 1910 have all occurred after 1979.

New low temperature records are still likely to occur in Tasmania in the coming decades, but at a much slower rate than new high temperature records.

Snow removal on a mountain road.
Snow removal on Mount Wellington Pinnacle Road, Hobart, June 2022.(City of Hobart)

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