Fires, snow, 100 km/h winds and temperatures 10 degrees above average have hit New South Wales in the space of a single weekend.
The state had a day of variable, and in some cases dangerous, conditions on Saturday as strong north-westerly winds brought high temperatures to the north-east and triggered fire warnings in the south.
Sydney’s central business district reached 32 degrees, while areas to the west around Richmond had highs of 34. Further inland, Walgett was the hottest part of the state, reaching 35 degrees.
Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Rebecca Kamitakahara said the warm weather was about 10 degrees higher than average for September because strong winds, moving ahead of a cold front that settled in on Sunday, had drawn warm air down from inland Australia.
“Generally the whole north-eastern part of the state saw temperatures in either the high 20s or low 30s,” she said. “Normally for this time of year we’d expect temperatures more in the low 20s.”
Wind gusts whipped up dust in parts of western and far western NSW, including Broken Hill, Cobar and Mildura.
There were gusts of 113 km/h in Bombala in the state’s south-east and 96 km/h near Bega, which led to a fire emergency.
On Sunday, the NSW RFS was waiting to investigate unconfirmed reports that three properties had been lost in a bushfire near Yankees Gap Road near the Bega Valley.
The fire had been burning for a month in remote parts of the South-East Forest national park and had already burnt through more than 17,800 hectares of bushland.
Saturday’s conditions caused spot fires to break out in the south-east.
On Sunday morning, the Snowy Mountains highway was closed at one end due to the fire, and nearly shut down at the other after snow overnight.
A NSW Rural Fire Service spokesman said firefighters were still on the ground at Yankees Gap Road on Sunday but there were no current threats to property.
“We have unconfirmed reports three properties were lost but, until our building impact assessment teams can get on to the fire ground safely, we won’t know what the damage is and what types of properties they are.”
He said there were 34 active bush or grass fires in the state, nine of which had yet to be contained.
“The crews will use the opportunity today with lower temperatures to get on top of those fires.”
By Sunday, temperatures across the state had taken a big drop into the high teens.