Black ice warning as South set to freeze

Authorities are warning of treacherous driving conditions tomorrow with temperatures set to plummet below zero in many parts of the South.

After today's snow and hail-storms, calmer conditions overnight are expected to result in temperatures as low as -12degC in Cromwell and -10degC in Alexandra. Dunedin can expect an overnight low of 2degC.

NZ Transport Agency's Otago-Southland Highways manager Ian Duncan said black ice would be a real danger.

"Winter roads demand winter driving and motorists can keep themselves safe by lowering their speeds, increasing their following distances, and taking extra care when cornering."

With Queenstown forecast to plummet to -9degC overnight, the council has stepped in and decided to close the Crown Range alpine pass overnight tonight.

"Black ice is inevitable and conditions likely to be treacherous. It comes down to a matter of public safety," QLDC chief executive Adam Feeley said.

The road will be closed from 8pm tonight, re-opening from 6am tomorrow.

Wintry blast disrupts city

A wintry blast has closed roads and schools and disrupted services in Dunedin.

State Highway 1 between Dunedin and Waitati has reopened after being closed because of snow.

Other roads including Three Mile Hill remain closed.

Bus services are almost back to normal after cancellations this morning. However the Dunedin rubbish collection has been cancelled today.

In Central Otago widespread road warnings are in place.

Dunedin schools  

All primary and intermediate schools and kindergartens between Mosgiel to Port Chalmers to Waikouaiti were closed.  

Otago Boys' High School, Otago Girls' High School, Logan Park High School, St Hilda's Collegiate,  John McGlashan College, and Kavanagh College were all closed.

Bayfield High School, Kaikorai Valley College, Kings and Queens high schools and Columba College had delayed 10am starts.

Roads and buses 

The Dunedin City Council says Three Mile Hill, Mt Cargill and Blueskin roads are closed because of snow.

State Highway 87 remains closed between Outram and Middlemarch, while SH 85 between Kyeburn and Palmerston is now opened with restrictions. 

There is widespread hill snow in the city and great care is required when driving, the DCC says.

Senior Sergeant Mark Crawford, of Dunedin, said motorists were generally driving to the conditions in the city this morning.

"There have been minor crashes, but people have been sorting themselves out," Snr Sgt Crawford said.

Motorists were advised to take note of the conditions before deciding whether or not to drive.

"At the end of the day it's a judgement call for individuals, [people need to] take into consideration the conditions, their own driving ability and the necessity of getting to where they need to get to, " he said.

Police and ambulance were later called to accident on Blackhead Rd just after 9.30am where a car was believed to have rolled.

Bus on Wakari Road. Photo by Angela-lee Tait‎

All bus services except the Pine Hill route (still cancelled) are now operating to normal timetable.

For further information phone the GoBus call centre on 474 0287.

Rubbish collection cancelled 

Kerbside collections have now been cancelled for today.

The collection will be on Saturday May 31.

Health services

Dunedin and Wakari Hospitals and their associated community services are operating as normal.

Patients are being advised to contact the services providing care for them if they have any difficulties reaching the hospital for appointments.

Services at Southland Hospitals are operating as normal

Lake District Hospital is operating as normal.

Central Otago/Queenstown Lakes

All Central Otago roads are open and clear of ice and snow, with the exception of Danseys Pass, which remains closed.  

Earlier this morning, grit trucks were operating in Alexandra and Earnscleugh after about 2cm of snow fell overnight.

The Queenstown District Council says all roads were affected by snow. The Crown Range is closed - all other main routes are open but chains are needed on roads where snowploughs are yet to reach. 

MetService severe weather forecaster Leigh Matheson said the snowfall seen in Otago and Southland overnight is easing this morning as it moves north to Canterbury.

"There's a few flurries about down to sea level but that trough is now moving away."

Clutha District

Drivers in the Clutha District are being warned to be wary of black ice this week, as snow subsides.

"The heavy snow warning has been lifted, although some of the high areas, like Hillend, Lawrence, Clinton and West Otago, still have a bit,'' Clutha District Council communications co-ordinator Jamie Shaw said today.

"We've had a few schools close, but no road closures, or infrastructure damage. But, people should take care, especially in the high areas, where it's quite slushy.''

Balclutha police reported no snow-related incidents and said the snow was melting away by mid-morning. 


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