Twenty years since big freeze


If residents are thinking it has suddenly got cold this winter, then maybe it is time to cast their minds back 20 years to July 3 and 4, 1996, when the minimum temperature recorded was minus 10.5degC two days in a row.
On July 2, 1996, the temperature recorded was minus 5.4degC, then came the two days of minus 10.5. On July 5 it was minus 9.6, on July 6 it was minus 8.5 and on July 7 it was a bonechilling minus 9.8. On July 8 it was minus 8.6 and again the temperature dipped to minus 9 on July 9.
Records show the number of days when the minimum temperature was below 0degC in June 1996 was 10 and in July there were 16, compared with the normal yearly rate of eight in June and 12 in July.
It seems this fairly rare cold snap mirrored similar events in the 1800s and 1900s.
Gore Historical Museum curator Stephanie Herring said that in 1889 and 1903 the Gore district had freezing temperatures that caused ice to flow down the Mataura River.
Twenty years ago, there was snow on the last day of June and on July 1 and the air temperatures were such that frost formed on top of the snow.
Plumbers and panelbeaters were among those tradespeople called upon to help residents with burst water pipes and to attend to vehicles that had crashed.
The Ensign reported that as the frost began to slowly thaw on July 5, the pipes began to burst and flood homes and businesses.
The Gore Volunteer Fire Brigade was kept