SYDNEY, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- Australians have endured a bizarrely wintery weekend, with parts of the country's southeast seeing snow for the first time in decades as an Antarctic vortex brought frigid conditions from the south.
The State of New South Wales' (NSW) iconic Blue Mountains ranges, just 50 kilometres west of Sydney, were blanketed in white on Saturday with shocked residents in Katoomba, Goulburn and the Central Tablelands waking to the unusual sight.
Meanwhile, in the NSW Riverina region, the towns of Cootamundra and Tumut received their first snowfall since 1985 and 2000, residents told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Michael Efron told Xinhua that the unusual weather was due to an "Antarctic vortex" which formed off the coast of Australia's southern island State of Tasmania.
"The system responsible for that was a low pressure system which deepened just to the east of Tasmania and that brought very cold air up towards Victoria from a long way south of the continent -- certainly temperatures were well below average across the state," Efron said.
The vortex also brought strong and damaging winds, with gusts of over 100 km/h buffeting the States of NSW and further south in Victoria, where a woman was killed when a tree fell on her car.
The State Emergency Service received hundreds of calls for help in relation to houses losing roofs and flooding matters.
Conditions were forecast to ease on Monday and Tuesday as a high pressure system approaches from the West.