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Melbourne : Fierce storm fails to keep the mercury down

Melbourne’s blast of summery weather delivered temperatures nearly 10 degrees above the average in the city overnight, with the StorminAustraliamercury failing to dip below 20 degrees. The balmy autumn night hit a low of 20.2 degrees at 12.30am in the city, before climbing to 21 degrees where it hovered for most of the night.

Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Rod Dickson said that was well above the average April minimum temperature of 11 degrees. There had only been about 15 occasions since 1855 that the city had recorded a warmer minimum temperature, Mr Dickson said. The summery conditions are a foretaste of what is to come for the the Easter long weekend, which will kick off with 30-degree temperatures in Melbourne and 33-degree conditions in Mildura on Good Friday.

Then two cool changes sweeping across the state will deliver cooler conditions for the rest of the long weekend. Mr Dickson said warm northerly winds and high cloud cover overnight helped to trap the heat over the city. ‘‘We’ve got a trough that has been sitting over the west of the state overnight and we’ve had warm northerly winds ahead of that trough ... and we’ve seen those warm northerly winds keep the temperature up. There has also been some high cloud cover which has helped keep the temperatures up,’’ he said.

The warm night followed a brief but fierce storm about 9.30pm that forced cancellations on the Werribee line after a lightning strike. Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs bore the brunt of the band of heavy rain and lightning that disappeared as quickly as it came.

Mr Dickson said rainfall totals were not large - Elsternwick and Geelong recorded 4 millimetres of rain, while St Kilda received 3 millimetres - but the fast-moving cloud of thunder activity was intense. ’’Because the intense showers and storms were moving so quickly they may have caught people by surprise,’’ Mr Dickson said. ’’The band of cloud developed west of Geelong and carried on via Laverton and Avalon and onto the eastern suburbs. The rainfall was not enough to cause flash-flooding but there were periods of brief heavy rain.’’

Metro cancelled all trains on the Werribee line after the lightning strike and buses replaced all services.
Rail services have resumed this morning.