Image: Central Western Daily – Dangerous Black Ice Covering NSW Road.
New South Wales and Victoria are has been experiencing record breaking winter temperatures with rare figures that have not been seen for over three decades. Due to the impromptu arrival of extremely harsh cold weather, regular commuters upon major roads are warned to be extra careful while driving upon roads affected by the weather.
Numerous road closures have appeared within NSW’s Central West due to unexpected levels of ice and snow coverage. Motorists have thus been advised to avoid traveling unless necessity suggests otherwise.
- Michel Highway: Northern Distributor Road, Orange & Millthorpe Road, Shadforth.
- Escort Way: Northern Distributor Road, Orange & Peabody Road, Boree.
- Chifley Road: Bells Line, Bell & Hartley Valley Road, Lithgow.
- Ilford Sofala Road (5km West) of Castlereagh Highway in Ilford.
- Great Western Highway: Duckmaloi Road, Hampton & Jenolan Caves
- Many local suburban roads within and around Oberon have been closed as well.
The speed limit of the Great Western Highway has received a reduced speed limit between Mount Lambie and Meadow Flat, with the road between Wallerang Rifle Road and Range Road reduced to 60km per hour from 100km per hour. Roads connecting to Mount Canobolas remain closed due to unprecedented levels of ice and snow with Old Canobolas Road closing also, causing temporary restricted access of all traffic to Wallace Road located within the Orange City Council area.
Extremely low temperatures and excess runoff caused by heavy rainfall has caused the development of slippery black ice to appear within the Central and Southern Tablelands, creating a significant risk for motorists utilising NSW roads on their daily commutes.
Roads and Maritime Services representative Kate Lucas, says that motorists must always be alert when driving in harsh weather and ensure that vehicles are suitable for traveling in conditions that are not often experienced during average weather patterns.
“Now that COVID-19 restrictions are slowly easing within NSW and considering winter has freshly arrived, people are keen to get out and about, and now is especially when people flock to the Snowy Mountains to visit Perisher and Thredbo, however, this winter, weather conditions are significantly harsher than normal,” Miss Lucas said.
“It is absolutely vital you make sure you vehicle is roadworthy, such as ensuring your tread is perfectly adequate for tough road conditions, ensuing window wipers are working well, regularly topping up your antifreeze coolant in car radiators and most importantly, making one hundred percent sure your headlights and high beams are working fine,
“If you’re planning to commute upon roads located within the towns of the Central and Southern Tablelands it is highly suggested you postpone planned travels or avoid driving altogether because it is absolutely not worth the risk taking on the roads, all we can say is stay home and keep warm.” Miss Lucas Said.
Together with unexpected levels of snowfall, toward the border of Victoria, there have been major flood warnings through the Kosciuszko National Park, West Gippsland Catchment, as well as the Thomson, Macalister, Latrobe and Avon rivers. As a result the SES has responded to over 5000 calls for support and has reached a point where numerous days will be needed in order to clear the immense backlog.
SES Rescue Volunteer, Jess Bickford says that many calls for help consisted of damage caused by natural climate patterns due to how unexpected and unprepared the affected towns were in combating erratic and unprecedented power of the weather. She also warns residents and drivers to be extremely careful when travelling upon roads declared dangerous by the Road and Maritime Services.
“Majority of the calls we received were about trees that have fallen, blocking roads and stopping people from getting though, on top of that we received calls for building damage caused by flash flooding which together with the almost spontaneous temperature decrease we have seen lately, black ice has made some roads entirely unusable.” Miss Bickford said.
“Along the Dandenong Ranges and West Gippsland, significant structural damage was caused by extreme rainfall and powerful winds, and it’s just in two days alone that we’ve seen some terribly expensive damage caused by this absolutely wild weather,
“The SES have been dealing with enormous amounts of calls and there are only so many of us volunteers, we highly recommend people who reside within the affected areas, whether that be in Victoria or New South Wales, to stay inside and keep well away from the roads if you have no proper reason to be driving around.
Across the border of NSW and VIC approximately 215,000 people were left powerless due to powerful winds, which is now expected to travel upwards along the coast.
As New South Wales and Victoria gradually enter the winter season, drivers are expected to exercise extreme caution when commuting within areas where heavy snow and ice are prevalent and are strongly advised to utlise www.livetrafic.com to keep updated on further changes to road conditions and local weather patterns.