It’s so cold there are icicles in Alice

SCORCHING heat and desert sands might be what you most associate with Alice Springs. But icicles?

The city at the centre of the continent has bloomed a thousand icicles this week as the winter weather bites hard in the Northern Territory.

Alice Springs dropped to - early on Monday and -1C on Sunday with an apparent temperature of -5.6C.

It's certainly cold but given there's been no rain in Alice Springs, it's something of a mystery why the icicles have formed.

Images posted by the NT's education department from Ross Park School in Alice's east shows a multitude of icy tentacles, more common in Tassie than the territory, hanging from playground equipment and gum trees.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said a near stationary high pressure system in the Great Australian Bight has pushed cool, dry air into the Top End.

High pressure brings clear skies and in winter when the sun is at its weakest and that's perfect conditions for freezing overnight temperatures.

Staff at a school in Alice Springs captured stunning images of icicles on the trees during a chilly morning. Picture: Ross Park Primary School/Education NT
Staff at a school in Alice Springs captured stunning images of icicles on the trees during a chilly morning. Picture: Ross Park Primary School/Education NT

BOM Senior Forecaster Sally Cutter revealed to news.com.au there was something not quite right about the icicle infestation. But you have to look closely.

"If you look in the pictures you will see that some trees have icicles and some don't. That's because the icicles have been caused by people turning on their sprinklers. The air is too dry to form icicles so this is humans and nature working in tandem."

It's not unusual to see freezing conditions in the southern part of the NT during winter with frost a regular seasonal visitor.

"Deserts are generally quite cold at night because the air is dry and dry heat generated through the day can easily escape so the desert can cool down much quicker than it would do if it was humid air."

In winter, this process is exacerbated by the sub bing far too the north and therefore less heat reaching the found.

In Darwin, more used to overnight temperatures north of 20C, this morning it dropped to a mere 12.7C. Middle Point, to the east of Humpty Doo, had its coldest night on record bottoming out at only 4.8C.

And the cold mornings aren't disappearing just yet: "Nights will be chilly in the south this week, with morning frost forecast for Alice Springs and some parts of the Lasseter and Simpson districts from midweek," said the BOM in a statement.

Expect the mercury to bottom out at 0C on Wednesday in Alice Springs, rising to an 8C low on Saturday morning. Highs of 19C to 26C can be expected as the sun melts those icicles.

 

 

HOBART FREEZING

If you think the Red Centre is cold don't go to the Apple Isle. At 10am on Tuesday morning the temperature in Hobart CBD felt more like -3.1C, a full 6 degrees cooler than the actual temperature. It dropped to freezing overnight, only the third time that's happened in decades.

It's actually warmer at the top of Mt Wellington, which overlooks the city and is often covered with a smattering of snow, than in the CBD.

Spare a thought for the locals of the small town of Liwanee in the centre of the state. Early on Monday the mercury fell to a numbing -9.3C - that's the actual, not the apparent temperature.

Tasmania, as well as Victoria and South Australia will have to shiver through a few more days of freezing air until it finally starts to warm up as the week progresses.

Hobart should see temperatures steadily rise from 12C on Tuesday to 17C by the end of the week. A dawn low of 1C on Tuesday will give way to minimums of 9C by Friday.

Adelaide and Melbourne will also see a steady rise in temperatures but the maximum will still be lucky to get into the high twenties by the end of the week.

Milder conditions up the east coast with Sydney mostly dry with highs in the low twenties. Brisbane will be wet with temperatures getting to 23C. Wet in Perth where the deluge continues with added thunderstorms.

Playground equipment was covered in icicles. Picture: Ross Park Primary School/Education NT
Playground equipment was covered in icicles. Picture: Ross Park Primary School/Education NT

The tiny islands more dangerous than Chernobyl

The tiny islands more dangerous than Chernobyl

Nuclear isotopes 1000 times higher than Chernobyl

Kerry keen to find the write stuff from festival authors

Kerry keen to find the write stuff from festival authors

Kerry O'Brien will be an integral part of Byron Writers Festival

MOVIE REVIEW: The Lion King remake’s big mistake

MOVIE REVIEW: The Lion King remake’s big mistake

DISNEY'S latest remake falls into its own trap.