12/07/2016 10:45 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:57 PM AEST

Winter Storm Set To Smash Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra

Brrrrreaking news.

It's arriving. And it's wreaking wintry havoc right now.

All week, the coldest, fiercest Southern Ocean storm system of the year has been screaming northwards from Antarctica to southern Australia. And now it's here. Here's what you need to know.

Snow is falling pretty much anywhere above about 400 metres above sea level in Victoria and South Australia. Half of Adelaide has been waiting atop Mt Lofty on the city's eastern fringe in a strange, half-frozen vigil. Their prayers were eventually answered.

Snow is now falling in Central Victoria and can be expected to head northwards into southern NSW and the ACT overnight.

It's also snowing really hard at Perisher, with 15cm of fresh powder coating the ski fields in the NSW snowy mountains.


It's going to be windy as hell

It already is in South Australia and much of Victoria. This thing is moving from west to east as winter storms generally do, and has severely impacted Adelaide, where up to 30,000 homes are without power.

Wind gusts of up to 139 km/h have been reported in southern South Australia and up to 100 km/h in western Victoria. Winds are currently gusting up to 90 km/h in the Melbourne area.

The Age
Your scarfs are going to need scarfs to keep them warm. And yes, the plural of scarf is scarfs, not scarves. Look it up.

It's going to be as cold as Canada

The cold has already struck South Australia. Adelaide was just 10 degrees at midday on Tuesday, en route to a projected maximum of 11. Mt Lofty in the Adelaide hills is just one of Adelaide's hill suburbs expecting snow. Here's the best they've managed so far.

Sleet... almost #snow

A video posted by @spratty86 on

The cold blast is going to last until the middle of Wednesday

Tuesday afternoon and evening into Wednesday morning is when things get really interesting and possibly a little scary.

Snow is forecast to fall to exceptionally low levels. The Melbourne forecast tips snow down as low as 300m above sea level. That'd mean a dusting of white not just in the Dandenong Ranges (which rise to about 630m) but in the outer suburbs of Melbourne itself.

Snow is forecast to fall above 600m in southern NSW overnight, which would include the suburbs of Canberra. In fact, the updated 4:30pm Canberra foprecast for Wednesday actually has a little snowflake icon. Woohoo!

Bureau of Meteorology
Translation: wear about 14 jumpers.

Snow often coats the mountains around Canberra in winter, but snow in the city itself is a once-a-year event, if that. But it's in Wednesday's forecast with a 70 percent probability.

National Archives of Australia
This photo needs updating. We demand that Bill Shorten and Malcolm Turnbull do this at new Parliament House on Wednesday morning.

Hobart, too. Let's not forget Hobart. Snow is tipped to fall into the suburbs of our southernmost city too, especially on Wednesday morning.

So what's going on?

Glad we asked on your behalf. This is the bit we love. Check out this weather map.

Bureau of Meteorology

See the cold front in the Great Australian Bight? Now follow the lines behind it. See how they seem to lead most of the way to Antarctica? This, people, is where this weather is coming from. It is an express delivery of frigid polar air aimed straight at us. Open with care.

Interestingly, if you look at the east coast, you'll notice the air is coming from a more westerly or northwesterly direction. This is warmish (by winter standards) air from the interior of Australia, and it's why Sydney was a comparatively balmy 20 degrees at midday Tuesday. (It's the 10am map)

Won't last. By Wednesday morning, the cold air will have pushed up to northern NSW. This storm won't travel quite as far north as the so-called #AntarcticVortex which brought snow to southern Queensland last year. But it'll likely be colder in the places it hits.

Heading to the snow? Then this is good news.

After a good start to the snow season, the last week or so was a bit warm in our Alpine resorts. The snow cover was eroded pretty badly, but the damage is already being repaired on Tuesday afternoon.
You can clearly see the snowflakes in this 1pm snapshot of the lower section of the Kosciuszko Express Chairlift at Thredbo.

It's already snowing bucketloads ahead of the main front and half a metre or so of fresh stuff is expected to be on the ground by the middle of Wednesday. Nice.

And the weekend?

It's actually looking pretty good in all southern capitals. Actually it's looking nice everywhere. So rug up, avoid standing under tall trees for the next 24 hours, and we should all be fine by about Thursday.

Meanwhile in the Northern Territory...

The dry season isn't so dry for once!