Icy weather hits hard

A buried vehicle at Jenolan Caves. Photo: Andrew Newton.

A buried vehicle at Jenolan Caves. Photo: Andrew Newton.

Cabins at Jenolan Caves. Photo: Andrew Newton.

Cabins at Jenolan Caves. Photo: Andrew Newton.

Thawing frost on a car at Leura. Photo: Tracey Callaghan.

Thawing frost on a car at Leura. Photo: Tracey Callaghan.

Frost beside the highway at Wentworth Falls.

Frost beside the highway at Wentworth Falls.

Roads affected by snow during very cold weather and snow in the Central Tablelands near Jenolan Caves. Picture: Nick Moir

Roads affected by snow during very cold weather and snow in the Central Tablelands near Jenolan Caves. Picture: Nick Moir

Winter struck the Mountains with a vengeance last Friday, with black ice forcing police to close part of the Great Western Highway and heavy snowfalls creating a mini-wonderland near Jenolan Caves.

The very cold overnight temperatures created dangerous driving conditions in the Upper Mountains, with many motorists sliding on the icy road in the early hours.

A number of minor accidents occurred before police closed several sections of the highway between Leura and Blackheath. The road was closed from 6am until shortly before 8.30am.

The Blue Mountains Bus Company was unable to put vehicles on the road for some of its early morning services.

The highway at Blackheath was closed in both directions after a minor incident near Ridgewell Road and another accident near the hospital turn-off at Katoomba briefly caused delays in the slippery conditions. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries.

Further west, heavy snow fell near Jenolan Caves and around Oberon. Residents of parts of the Upper Mountains reported flurries but the snow did not settle on the ground.

Rob Sharpe, a meteorologist with Weatherzone, said the very low temperatures were linked to a cold front that moved through the state followed by a low-pressure trough.

"That's brought showers with it but because the air is so cold, the showers have fallen as snow across the high areas of the central tablelands," he said.

The temperature hovered near or below zero for much of the day, particularly in the Upper Mountains. The ambient temperature (allowing for wind chill) at Mt Boyce, near Blackheath, plummeted to -9 degrees late in the afternoon.

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