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Freezing nights, balmy days

Anthony Sharwood, Tuesday May 28, 2024 - 11:02 AEST

Canberra just had its coldest night of the year to date, with a low of –4.9°C just before 7 am Tuesday, which would have made hand signals difficult for the city's many cycle commuters.

But the run home should be a lot more finger-friendly for those leaving before dark, with a balmy top of 18°C on the cards today.

That's a temperature differential between the high and low of almost 23 degrees.

For the record, Canberra's average May minimum is 2.4°C while the average max is 16.4°C.

Many inland towns in the southeastern corner of Australia are experiencing similar conditions at the moment.

Young in NSW, the town known for producing cherries and champion cricketer Nathan Lyon, had an overnight min of –3.7°C and is heading for a max of 19°C. That's a gap of nearly 23 degrees too.

The small town of Omeo in Victoria, located in a valley just east of the high country, had a minimum of –5.4°C on Tuesday morning with a forecast top of 19°C for today. So that's a differential of more than 24 degrees.

While these temperature differentials are quite significant, it's actually quite normal to see a large diurnal temperature range at this time of year in the southern half of Australia.

It happens because we still have relatively warm air masses lingering over the continent, which help provide daytime warmth when you find yourself underneath a high pressure system.

However, the clear skies and light winds beneath these highs, combined with lengthening nights (less than one month until the solstice) causes radiative cooling at night.

Meanwhile the pattern should last another day and then change.

Image: Old eastern grey here can't wait for the day to warm up. Source: @pen_ash.

Wednesday should again dawn chilly with widespread inland frosts, and the day will even be a couple of degrees warmer in many spots, with temps reaching the low twenties in many towns.

Warm northwesterly winds ahead of an approaching cold front will then bring much warmer nights before a colder airmass spreads across the southeast on Friday and into the weekend, with rain in many areas.

Image: The high pressure system that has been parked over southeastern Australia for most of the week finally moves away on Thursday, ushering in warm nortwesterly winds and rain with a northwest cloudband.

So enjoy these balmy days, get outside and have lunch in the sun if you can, because chilly weather is almost upon us, just in time for the official start of winter on Saturday, June 1.

- Weatherzone

© Weatherzone 2024

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