Queensland snowfall: Icy weather brings warnings in Australia

Image source, SYDNEY TRAINS
Image caption,
Snow blankets the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney

Icy conditions have swept across eastern Australia, bringing snow to areas as far north as subtropical Queensland.

Australia's Bureau of Meteorology described it as a "rare" sight, noting the state had not experienced significant snowfall since 2015.

Severe weather warnings have also been issued for a 1,000km (620 miles) stretch of coast which includes Sydney.

People have been urged to stay indoors amid heavy rain and gale-force winds.

Meteorologist Lachlan Stone said the snowfall in Queensland, driven by colder air from the south, was an unusual occurrence in a state with a sub-tropical to tropical climate.

"But in the south of the state, particularly near the New South Wales border, it's quite mountainous and in the elevated areas it can get quite cold," he told the BBC.

Online, many were quick to comment on the scenes in Australia's "sunshine state" - as it is more typically known.

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Authorities said that snow had fallen near the town of Stanthorpe, 220km south-west of Brisbane.

Image source, BBC

The town recorded near-freezing temperatures on Tuesday, said Mr Stone.

Up to 5cm of snow also blanketed the Blue Mountains region, west of Sydney, prompting road closures and travel warnings.

The weather bureau said strong winds along the New South Wales coastline had been blowing in excess of 90km/h (55mph).

Image caption,
Authorities warned that the severe weather would cause travel delays

"These winds will whip up heavy surf conditions, making coastal activities dangerous," it said in a statement.

Ferry services in Sydney Harbour were also suspended due to the rough conditions.

June marks the beginning of winter in Australia.

The nation has just experienced its hottest summer on record and recent extreme weather events including drought, floods and bushfires.

Australians are more concerned about climate change than at any point in the past decade, a recent poll by the Lowy Institute found.