Parts of NSW disaster areas

The New South Wales Government has declared a natural disaster following floods in the state’s Riverina and South-West Slopes.

The floods are part of a trend of wild weather that swept across eastern Australia overnight.

Snow, floods and gale-force winds have transformed parts of New South Wales and Victoria into springtime winter wonderlands.

In Queensland, strong winds have caused havoc on roads and in Victoria snow has blanketed parts of the state and flood warnings are in place.

The disaster declaration covers Wagga Wagga and Albury cities, Tumut, Tumbarumba, Greater Hume and Lockhart shires.

Residents from the town of Culcairn, north of Albury, were evacuated earlier today with Billabong Creek expected to peak later this evening.

People from the towns of Holbrook and Lockhart have been able to return home.

James McTavish from the SES says other areas are also on alert.

“There remains a significant amount of flood water to pass through communities such as Rand and Walbundrie,” he said.

Acting emergency services minister Phil Costa visited Wagga Wagga today and says the Government will do what it can to help people affected by the floods.

“The Keneally Government today are announcing that this is a natural disaster. We will be declaring it as such today,” he said.

“And we will be there to help those communities in need and that we will be there all the way through with our partners to make sure that people who have been impacted by this disaster are supported and given the help that they need.”

The Olympic Highway remains closed between Wagga Wagga and Table Top.

Weather eases

In Victoria the wintry weather is easing, but the weather bureau says flood warnings are still current in the north-east.

VicRoads confirms the Murray Valley Highway is still closed by floodwaters near the town of Corryong.

The area sustained falls of more than 100 millimetres over the last 24 hours.

The weather bureau’s Dean Stewart says the snow has been the more spectacular event, but the flooding in the Upper Murray River remains the major concern.

“Even though the rain has cleared that area, still be a couple of showers up there, but it’s really for the rain that has occurred for it to make its way downstream, so that major flood warning will persist for the remainder of today on the Upper Murray, upstream of Lake Hume,” he said.

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued flood warnings for all three states.

The bureau’s Simon Allen says the overnight extremes were unusual.

“The weather this time of year can be quite variable, however it was a strong cold front that moved through yesterday and overnight,” he said.

“We did get snow down to very low levels, which certainly can happen, but it’s probably fairly late in the year, but it was a very strong cold front.”

Mr Allen says the conditions are expected to ease in the coming days.

Springtime snow

The cold front, which swept through parts of Victoria and New South Wales, dumped snow down to as low as 500 metres above sea level.

There were falls at Mount Dandenong and there is a thick blanket of snow in the ranges north-east of Melbourne.

The falls forced police to close part of the Whittlesea-Kinglake Road at Kinglake this morning.

Jane Bayliss, who has a farm near Pheasant Creek, said it was white as far as she can see.

“Everywhere is covered, it looks really beautiful and it’s quite thick,” she said.

“I love looking at it on the branches. It’s all on the branches of all the trees and the bushes. It looks really beautiful.”

In New South Wales, there have been reports of snow falls at Orange and Bathurst in the state’s central west and in the flood-affected town of Tumbarumba in the south-west.

Tumbarumba Shire Council general manager Kay Whitehead says there is now snow there, after flooding hit the area overnight.

Across Sydney, crews are cleaning up debris on the roads.

And on the F3 near Hornsby, two southbound lanes have been closed after a truck rolled.

In Queensland, winds of over 90 kilometres an hour have caused damage and cut power.

A large gum tree crashed onto a house in the Brisbane suburb of Bardon during this morning’s wild winds, narrowly missing a child’s bedroom.

Police say there has been reports of mini-tornados at Eidsvold in the North Burnett and that motorists have struggled with fallen trees across roads.

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