| 09.08,19. 02:03 PM |
BOM weather warning for Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia as winds and snow hit
Photo: The Black Spur is a road which cuts through Victoria's Yarra Ranges. (ABC News)
A child is in a critical condition after destructive winds lashing Australia's south-east sent a tree falling onto a car over the iconic Black Spur road, north-east of Melbourne.
Emergency workers were called to the Black Spur crash on the Maroondah Highway at Fernshaw, about 80 km north-east of Melbourne, after the tree fell about 9:40am.
Three of the four passengers were removed from the car, while the fourth remained trapped in the wreckage, an Ambulance Victoria spokesperson said.
A child with head injuries was flown to the Royal Children's Hospital in a critical condition while another child was taken by road to the hospital in a stable condition.
A man with serious injuries was flown to Melbourne's Alfred Hospital, the spokesperson said.
The Black Spur stretch of the highway — a popular scenic drive running through the Yarra Ranges — was closed in both directions between Healesville and Narbethong.
Parts of Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales were experiencing the dangerous winds as a deep polar low moved across the region, seeing flights cancelled and prompting warnings of traffic chaos and blizzards.
"This is the coldest outbreak the south-east has seen this year," Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) duty forecaster Rohan Smyth said.
Motorists were urged to take extra caution during peak hour traffic and the SES issued a road weather alert for "dangerous" driving conditions.
Major pier destroyed in winds
The winds lashing Victoria also destroyed part of the Frankston Pier, in Melbourne's south-east, sending the end of the structure loose into Port Phillip Bay.
The State Emergency Service (SES) said part of the pier in the densely populated suburb had become detached.
Frankston worker Chris Ransom saw the piece of the pier floating away from his office building and told the ABC it appeared it was heading north across the bay.
"It's not something you see every day," he said.
Jack Carney, who works at a restaurant along the foreshore, told ABC Radio Melbourne the part of the pier was "probably the size of a small bus".
The area experienced wind gusts of more than 110 kilometres per hour on Friday morning and the BOM said there were "abnormally high tides" across the Victorian coast.
The outer south-eastern suburbs near Frankston and the Mornington Peninsula bore the full force of the winds, but the CBD and northern suburbs escaped the worst of the weather.
Cape Otway, south-west of Melbourne, experienced wind gusts of up to 115 kph early Friday morning.
Speed limits were dropped down to 60 kph on Melbourne's busy Bolte and West Gate bridges due to the strong and gusty winds.
Victoria's SES said it had received more than 475 calls for help between 8:00pm and 10:00am, mostly due to fallen trees and some building damage.
Domestic flights hit by delays
Domestic and international flights at Sydney Airport were affected by the weather, with multiple cancellations on services this morning.
Melbourne Airport said 23 domestic flights had been cancelled, but international services were not impacted.
Both airports urged travellers to check directly with their airlines to see if their travel would be affected.
Worst to come for NSW, ACT
South Australia felt the brunt of the low through Thursday night and early Friday morning, with conditions easing throughout the morning.
Widespread areas of dust were reported over parts of SA's Mid North, Riverland and Murraylands districts.
SA SES state duty officer Tony Costello said the state's emergency service had received about 340 calls for assistance in a "fairly hectic" 24 hours.
The high winds and poor visibility made it difficult for emergency services to reach the scene of a fatal truck collision on the Stuart Highway near South Australia's Barossa Valley region.
The "worst of the cold air" was expected to reach NSW on Saturday, Mr Smyth said.
In NSW, most of the state's east coast was issued a damaging wind warning for more than 90 kph on Friday.
Snow dump increases avalanche risk
A blizzard warning for Victoria and NSW's alpine areas remained in place, with winds expected to peak at 120 kph.
"This dump of snow will increase the risk of avalanche, so skiers outside of resort areas should assess the avalanche risk," Mr Smyth said.
The Great Alpine Road in Victoria was closed between Harrietville and Mount Hotham due to heavy snow.
Just before 5:30am, the apparent temperature at Thredbo top station was -22 degrees Celsius.
It was forecast to snow at altitudes as low as 500 metres in Victoria, including near the Dandenong Ranges, just east of Melbourne's suburban fringe, and near the central town of Ballarat.
The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service recommended backcountry travel be postponed until conditions improve.