Thousands of people have been cut off from Sydney after two major roads are closed forcing drivers to wait in freezing conditions caused by a polar blast sweeping across Australia.
The Great Western Highway in Katoomba, which connects the Blue Mountains to the the coast, has been closed after a minor accident on Wednesday morning.
Motorists have been warned the highway may not reopen until 10 or 11am with the closures to cause mayhem during peak hour traffic.
Black ice on parts of the highway is believed to have caused the minor accident with police on the scene to ensure the ice melts before the road reopens.
The snow comes as part of a polar blast which first struck Australia’s east coast on Tuesday bringing wild weather including heavy rain, hail stones and snowfall.
The Great Western Highway in Katoomba, which connects the Blue Mountains to the the city, has been closed after a minor accident caused by black ice on Wednesday morning
This Weatherzone satellite weather map shows where snow fell over the NSW Tablelands
Residents in Blackheath, the Blue Mountains, Orange and Leura woke up to see their suburbs transformed into a winter wonderland on Wednesday (pictured, snow in Blackheath)
The cold front has moved through Tasmania, South Australia and Victoria before making its way northeast across the NSW and the ACT.
The mercury was predicted to reach a low of 7C in Sydney and Melbourne, with the southerly wind chill making it feel like sub-zero temperatures.
Sydney experienced its coldest afternoon of the year on Tuesday with the cold front causing temperatures to plummet to just 10.2C by 3pm – which felt more like 1.8C with the addition of the rain and wind.
Residents in NSW’s Central Tablelands awoke to see their suburbs had been transformed into winter wonderlands while one man snapped the snow flurries at Katoomba train station late on Tuesday night.
Katoomba was covered in a thick blanket of snow which began falling on Tuesday afternoon
Residents in NSW’s Central Tablelands awoke to see their suburbs transformed into winter wonderlands (left) while one man captured the snow flurries at Katoomba train station (right)
Joel Pippard from Weatherzone said snow fell across NSW’s Central Tablelands from about 4pm on Tuesday to 2am on Wednesday morning.
The forecaster said the snow had gotten as low as 600m to 700m in some areas with about 5cm to 10cm falling in Leura, Blackheath, Lithgow and Orange.
He said those areas are unlikely to see more snow tonight as the cold front responsible for the icy weather moves off the NSW coast to New Zealand but said the alps and snow slopes could see some ‘light dustings’.
Residents in Canberra were hit with a ‘very cold day’ followed by a freezing night with temperatures at a dismal -6.9C on Wednesday morning.
Mr Pippard said between now and Monday residents will shiver through some cooler mornings with all areas south of Newcastle likely to receive some light showers.
NSW is due to be hit with its next cold front on Monday with the north coast to receive some drizzle while inland areas will remain fairly dry.
The upcoming cold front is expected to bring rain and storms, rather than snow.
A southerly buster (pictured on radar) will bring freezing temperatures to southern Australia, particularly focused on the southeast, on Tuesday
Melbourne was forecast to see light showers on Tuesday as a rain band passed over
The sudden drop in temperatures and rainfall has been caused by a cold air mass with southerly winds blowing in its wake.
Sydney will see moderate rain Tuesday night with showers expected to continue until the weekend.
The storm system is going to move as far as Brisbane with showers expected to fall into the evening before clearing to a warmer 19C on Wednesday.
Light showers will also hang around Melbourne on Tuesday night and won’t ease until Friday.
The bitter cold snap has also seen heavy snowfall in Victoria and NSW’s highland regions with powder forecast down to 800m with up to 30cm possible.
Jindabyne, located near the NSW and Victoria border, saw one of the heaviest blizzards of the year with 20cm of settled snow recorded.
While Canberra will remain cloudy for the rest of the week, rain is forecast to ease heading into Wednesday.
Canberrans endured freezing temperatures as low as ‘feels like’ -2C alongside wet weather
Snow was forecast to fall above 800m in Victoria and NSW on Tuesday with up to 30cm of settled snow possible (pictured, forecast for snow on Tuesday)
Hobart is forecast to see separate showers Tuesday and Wednesday after days of bitterly cold conditions ravaged Tasmania.
In central Australia minimum temperatures are forecast to be just above freezing for Alice Springs overnight.
Darwin will stay sunny with maximum temperatures of 33C and minimums around 20C expected through to early next week.
Adelaide avoided the brunt of the rain band but should expect light showers through to the end of the week.
Perth is set to see cloudy weather coupled with maximum temperatures in the low 20Cs through to Friday before possible showers move in on Saturday.
A resident in Katoomba snapped a photo of snowfall (pictured) around his home on Tuesday evening
Showers are expected to continue in Sydney through to the end of the week as a rain band moves east
MAJOR CITIES FOUR-DAY FORECAST
Wednesday Becoming cloudy. Min 8 Max 20
Thursday Partly cloudy. Min 10 Max 23
Friday Mostly sunny. Min 8 Max 22
Saturday Showers. Min 11 Max 18
Wednesday Shower or two. Min 8 Max 14
Thursday Showers. Min 9 Max 16
Friday Cloudy. Min 8 Max 16
Saturday Partly cloudy. Min 10 Max 18
Wednesday Showers increasing. Min 6 Max 13
Thursday Showers. Min 9 Max 14
Friday Partly cloudy. Min 8 Max 15
Saturday Partly cloudy. Min 6 Max 19
Wednesday Shower or two. Min 5 Max 13
Thursday Cloudy. Min 7 Max 15
Friday Partly cloudy. Min 6 Max 15
Saturday Partly cloudy. Min 6 Max 16
Wednesday Morning frost. Partly cloudy. Min -3 Max 12
Thursday Partly cloudy. Min 1 Max 15
Friday Early frost. Partly cloudy. Min 1 Max 16
Saturday Partly cloudy. Min 2 Max 16
Wednesday Mostly sunny. Min 7 Max 18
Thursday Possible shower. Min 8 Max 19
Friday Showers. Min 10 Max 18
Saturday Showers easing. Min 11 Max 19
Wednesday Sunny. Min 8 Max 21
Thursday Sunny. Min 7 Max 22
Friday Mostly sunny. Min 8 Max 22
Saturday Shower or two. Min 10 Max 22
Wednesday Sunny. Min 20 Max 33
Thursday Sunny. Min 19 Max 33
Friday Sunny. Min 19 Max 33
Saturday Sunny. Min 19 Max 33