A SAVAGE cold snap has residents in Australia's most southern states reaching for extra layers of clothing, with several records smashed.
Melbourne is currently shivering through what weather forecasters Weatherzone are describing as the coldest four day period for 24 years.
Meanwhile, in Tasmania, Liawanee, a small town in the centre of the state, situated at 1065 metres above sea level, clocked in an overnight minimum on Thursday of an incredible -14.2, the coldest morning on record in the state.
However, while the weather is cold, there will be a spring in the step of farmers, particularly in Victoria's increasing dry north-west, if a forecast rainband set to arrive this morning (Friday) delivers the anticipated falls in regions along the Murray River of up to 30mm.
Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) senior forecaster Miriam Bradbury said a deep low had dragged up very cold and wintery conditions from the south and had plunged temperatures in southern Australia, particularly Victoria and Tasmania, from unseasonably mild winter conditions.
Many Victorian centres failed to push into double figures on Tuesday, while Ballarat getting to just 7, Ararat 8 and Hamilton 9.
In Tasmania, it reached just 9 in Hobart and Launceston and 6 at Ross in the state's Midlands region.
Liawanee has failed to exceed a maximum of 3 since Monday.
Snowfalls fell to low levels, down to sea level in Tasmania and just 100 metres above sea level in Victoria.
Ms Bradbury said snow was unofficially recorded in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne in the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges and into the Yarra Valley.
Centres such as Ballarat and Kyneton received snow, while there was even a dusting in Colac and parts of West Gippsland where snow is very seldom recorded.
While the nearby Otway Range semi-regularly get snow, Colac was last believed to have had this heavy snow in the mid 1990s.
It was followed up by a series of impressive frosts on Wednesday morning.
Horsham plummeted to an eye-watering-4.1 while much of the inland western half of Victoria was below zero.
Unfortunately for farmers looking for rain there was only a small band of useful rainfall, with much of Victoria and Tasmania receiving under 5mm, with only elevated areas doing better, with some patchy falls up to 25mm.
Temperatures are expected to dip again on Friday with another strong cold front hitting the state.
This time, however, Ms Bradbury said the prospects were much better for rain, especially in the northern half of the state.
"The front is expected to reach the Mallee very late tomorrow with the rainfall set to ramp up on Friday.
The rainband is expected to deliver useful falls across NSW, northern Victoria and right up into southern Queensland, with the best falls in southern NSW and northern Victoria.
"We haven't exactly pinpointed where the low is centred and that will make a big difference but at this stage it looks like slightly further south than we initially thought," Ms Bradbury said.
"If that is the case it will mean excellent rainfall for northern Victoria, especially along the Murray."
The rain will be less through the Wimmera, where growers are also becoming anxious, and unusually the high rainfall region of south-west Victoria will record the lowest rainfall out of the system.
Next week Ms Bradbury said there would be further cold fronts sweeping through southern Australia, with a more traditional spread of rainfall with the south getting more than the north.
She said given the front was still a week away it was difficult to make accurate forecasts of how much rain would fall but added it looked a reasonable strength cold front.
The story Victoria and Tasmania shiver through Antarctic blast first appeared on Farm Online.