From Thursday afternoon, a strong cold front will hit western Victoria, bringing with it destructive winds and the worst winter weather of the year. An associated deep low-pressure system forecast to pass the south of Melbourne will also play a part.

Damaging west to north-westerly winds are expected to develop in western parts of the state this afternoon with peak gusts predicted to reach up to 100 kilometres per hour. The winds will then extend across the rest of the state tonight, leading into Friday morning.

Hail in Melbourne is a possibility on Thursday and Friday when temperatures will hit a low of seven degrees that will be exacerbated due to wind chill. Between one and 10 millimetres of rain is expected over Melbourne daily from Friday to Sunday.

Those peak gusts will get even more extreme in Melbourne’s south-eastern and bayside suburbs, the west and central districts and the West Gippsland coast. Winds in these areas could reach up to 110 kilometres per hour, extending to 120 kilometres per hour in alpine regions. Above 1200 metres blizzards are likely tonight and Friday morning.

From Casterton to Cape Otway destructive wind gusts up to 130 kilometres per hour are possible from late this afternoon until early Friday morning.

The winds should ease during Friday morning in the central and western parts of the state.

Locations that may be affected include Mildura, Horsham, Portland, Hamilton, Warrnambool, Bendigo, Seymour, Ballarat, Geelong, Melbourne, Traralgon, Wonthaggi, Mt Baw Baw, Mt Buller, Mt Hotham and Falls Creek.

The State Emergency Service is advising people in affected areas to move vehicles under cover or away from trees, to secure or put away loose items on their property and keep clear of fallen power lines.

For more weather updates, head to bom.gov.au.