Two opposite elements were at play in the surrounding region over the weekend, united by wild winds that kept emergency services busy from Jindabyne to Moruya.
Icy rain and snow in the Snowy Monaro caused minor traffic accidents and delays on busy snow routes while in Moruya, a speedy grass fire had Eurobodalla Rural Fire Service and NSW Fire and Rescue scrambling but their skill stopped the flames before they could destroy anything more than grass and fence posts.
Ongoing dry conditions combined with frost cured grasslands have resulted in a number of fast-moving grass fires over recent weeks. Local brigades have done well to catch them before they became too large.
The Bureau of Meteorology expects that this cold front and its accompanying high winds will ease today, although another cold front is expected to move across South East NSW on Wednesday. However, it is unlikely to be as strong as what was experienced over the weekend.
James Morris, a spokesperson for NSW Rural Fire Service, says that while the organization can’t currently enforce a ban on burning, conditions are such that they advise holding off until the wind dies down.
“Our main message at the moment is to check your pile burns, as the Moruya fire was reignited from a week-old burn pile. We suggest not burning solid timbers like stumps or logs in the conditions, as these can stay hot for a long time. Take a rake to your pile and make sure there’s no smoke or heat left,” Mr Morris says.
Residents seeking further fire information and advice should contact the RFS Bega Valley – 6494 7400, Eurobodalla – 4474 2855, Snowy Monaro – 6455 0455. If you see an unattended fire call Triple O (000).
And keep an eye on the NSW Rural Fire Service website for news and updates.
Meanwhile, in the Snowy’s, Jindabyne Fire and Rescue and Monaro Police District have issued a number of warnings hoping to reach people travelling to the mountains from milder regions who are not used to driving to icy conditions.
“Be aware and take care on our roads, as we expect windy, wet, snowy, icy and slippery road conditions. Snow and ice make for a marked decrease in grip and an increased risk when driving. So if you are out and about, slow down, drive smoothly, leave plenty of room between vehicles and be prepared,” Jindabyne Fire and Rescue advised via their Facebook page.
Sergeant Brad Hughes of Monaro Police adds his own advice for driving in freezing and snowy conditions.
“Do not put the handbrake on, use chocks under your wheels and leave your car in gear instead,” he says. “This is because moisture can freeze the cables and brake linings. But don’t use rocks to chock your wheels as they can damage snow clearing machines,” he says.
Sergeant Hughes also recommends putting chains on your car if you are planning to park it all day, even if you didn’t need them to arrive at your destination.
“Applying chains assists in your departure if weather conditions deteriorate later,” he says.
Keeping your windscreen and wipers free from snow and ice can make make a huge difference to visibility, so bag your wipers if you plan on parking overnight or for a long time and carry an ice scraper to easily clear your windows and mirrors before you leave.
In a pinch, a credit card makes a good ice scraper.