Brrrr! It hit -5C on Wednesday

By Ivy Jensen

THE district shivered through its coldest August day in 21 years early Wednesday.

According to a Bureau of Meteorology weather expert, the mercury dropped to a chilly -3C in Echuca-Moama, but only 20 minutes way in Torrumbarry it sank even further, to -5C — making it our coldest August temperature since 1997 and almost 10 degrees below our monthly minimum average.

The record low for any month is -5.5, recorded on July 21, 1982.

The frost caused havoc for farmers, including Torrumbarry avocado farmer Andrew Crossman who expects 300 of his 1400 trees to have been affected.

Mr Crossman said it was the lowest temperature he had experienced during his years of farming.

‘‘We thought we were through the frosts but then you get a weather event like this,’’ he said.

He said he didn’t know the full extent of the damage, but should know in the next week.

‘‘There are certain varieties that look a bit sick,’’ he said.

Mr Crossman said his frost fan came on at 9.20pm Tuesday, when the temperature dropped to 0.5C — eventually falling to -5C between 6am and 7am Wednesday — before switching off at 8.05am.

‘‘The fan mitigated the damage but some trees were too far away to benefit from it and they are a variety that are more susceptible to the cold,’’ he said.

‘‘The fan stops the frost from settling by circulating the higher warmer air with the colder air.

‘‘It makes it between 1.5C to 2C warmer.’’

According to a BOM spokesperson, temperatures averaged six degrees colder across parts of central Victoria.

Heathcote was a freezing -4.4C, while Kyabram dropped to -3.8C.

The bureau’s senior climatologist Blair Trewin said it was unusual to have such a cold snap late in the year but there were a couple of underlying reasons.

‘‘One is that the basic underlying air mass is pretty cold,’’ he said.

‘‘But also because we had clear skies over the Melbourne area and light winds; that meant it was pretty well set up for overnight cooling.

‘‘We’re generally not seeing quite such significant numbers elsewhere in the state except for parts of the north-east.’’