Dunedin covered in snow. Photo by ODT.
Snow is falling in Southland and parts of Otago as
officials make final preparations for the polar blast that
could cause chaos for many regions.
A special weather advisory has been slapped on the whole
country and electricity companies have warned of possible
Emergency refuge centres are being set up, motorists warned
off the roads, and shoppers urged to stock up, but to refrain
from panic buying.
Dunedin residents appeared to have taken heed of the warning,
with at least one central city supermarket having run out of
staples such as bread and some tinned foods by 7.30pm.
The MetService has snowfall warnings on alpine passes and
meteorologist Dan Corbett believes snow will be "a major
issue'' in the south.
It is expected to fall to sea level, "or very near it", from
Southland to South Canterbury from late tonight into Thursday
and Friday, he said.
In Southland and eastern Otago, snow is expected above 200m
this afternoon, lowering to near sea level overnight. In the
15 hours to 9am tomorrow 15-20cm is expected to accumulate
above 300m, and 5-10cm is expected down to 200m.
The snow level is expected at around 200m from about
Christchurch northwards, and dumps of up to a metre are
expected above 300m for inland parts of Canterbury and South
Christchurch Civil Defence staff are on stand-by, having met
emergency services and key agencies yesterday to prepare for
the expected bad weather.
The Civil Defence Emergency Operations Centre is being set up
this afternoon and can be activated overnight if heavy snow
Bitterly cold southeasterlies will bring damaging gusts up to
150km/h for the South Island's West Coast, and 130km/h for
exposed parts of Marlborough and Nelson.
"These winds could disrupt travel, and severe wind chill will
stress livestock,'' Mr Corbett said.
The weather has already disrupted flights, with all air
traffic in and out of Invercargill cancelled late this
morning. Flights into and out of Queenstown have also been
A severe weather warning for strong to gale southerlies and
very cold temperatures over the South Island are forecast to
spread into the North Island on Friday and Saturday.
The North Island should see snow falling to about 600m from
late Thursday into early Saturday, as south to southwest
winds become very strong.
However, WeatherWatch head analyst Philip Duncan said
flurries of snow could be seen at lower altitudes in
Auckland, where there is a risk of hail and isolated thunder
"While the snow level will likely be 500m-plus, which is
higher than the peaks in Auckland, downpours may be big
enough to blow snow flurries down onto the tops of the
Waitakeres, Hunuas and possibly Bombays,'' he said.
"However, the forecast for Auckland is very messy _ so we
will need to update again in about 24 hours time.''
AA has warned drivers to stay off the flooded and icy roads
if they can.
"If you have to go out, drivers should check the conditions
of the roads on the AARoadwatch.co.nz website before setting
off,'' said spokesman Mike Noon.
State Highway closures and warning
SH 87 Kyeburn to Outram: Closed due to snow.
SH 6,97 Kingston to Lumsden, Five Rivers To Mossburn: Closed
due to snow.
SH 8 Twizel to Fairlie (Burkes Pass): Closed due to
SH 80 Glentanner to Mt Cook Road: Closed due to snow.
SH 8 Lindis Pass: Chains essential - Closed to heavy &
SH 8 Raes Junction to Clarksville: Chains Must Be
SH 94 Mossburn to Te Anau. No towing from Centre Hill Road to
Gorge Hill ( Mavora Turnoff).
SH 85 Kyeburn to Omakau: Chains must be carried.