Snow in Western Australia

My snowchase of July 5, 2005

In the Bluff Knoll car park at 5am the temperature was 5.0 with very occasional light rain showers. I reached the summit around 7am to find a temperature of +0.5 and winds gusting to probably 60-70 kmh with lulls. There was no sign of any snow on the ground, although some residual snowflakes could be seen resting on the shrubbery so obviously it had been snowing. A few light snow showers occurred before 8am then it was fine for a couple of hours though mostly cloudy on top.

After 10:30am, when the temperature had risen to 2.0, some magnificent cumulonimbus clouds arrived from the southwest bringing showers of mostly snow with a little small hail. At times the snow was quite thick with flakes 5mm across. Temperatures reduced to 0.5 in downdrafts but still nothing settled on the ground - this continued on and off until after 12:00 when the temperature rose to 3.0. Shortly after starting the walk back down I bumped into a woman whose father had been involved with cutting the original track up Bluff Knoll. It would have been his hundredth birthday, and she had climbed the mountain in recognition of the occasion. While talking to her the clouds opened and dropped a particularly good snowshower, making the occasion more special.

After watching the charts keenly for the previous few days I would have bet money on there being snow on the ground, but the temperatures weren't quite cold enough to chill the ground sufficiently to preserve what little snow did fall. Such is life for snowseekers in the west. The following day some snow and sleet was seen falling near Lake Johnston, west of Norseman - probably in cumulonimbus downdrafts similar to those I observed on Bluff Knoll.

Unfortunately I didn't bring back any photos from this excursion. I took an old compact automatic film camera with me, but after the first shot the camera rewound the film completely back into the cartridge where the tail couldn't be retrieved. My guess is that the battery suffered in the cold, and upon having difficulty winding on the film it must have concluded that the resistance indicated the end of the roll. Lesson learned: cameras which depend upon battery power need to be kept warm in a pocket or beneath clothing when it is cold. On the subsequent snowchase I took my old but reliable SLR.


NEXT PAGE >  August 30, 2005 (Light snow, sunrise, savage wind chill)