Big chill: Snow on way for most of Otago

Load up the log box - MetService has updated its snow forecast which now shows it will lower to 200 metres on Sunday over most of Otago, and is expected to continue through much of Monday.

A MetService spokesman said a complex trough, preceded by strong northwesterlies, was expected to bring heavy rain to many parts of New Zealand this weekend.

At the same time, a cold front was expected to move up the country from the southwest during Sunday and Monday, bringing snow down to low levels over the south and east of the South Island.

Meanwhile, high winds have made for dangerous driving conditions in parts of the South, with the temporary closure of a state highway in Southland, while power outages were being reported in many areas of Central Otago from the afternoon and in Berwick near Dunedin tonight. 

Aurora Energy said an outage was reported in the Berwick/Maungatua Rd area after powerlines came down about 8.15pm and power was expected to be restored early on Saturday morning. 

MetService has forecast northwest gales with gusts reaching 130km/h in exposed places in Southland, as well as Stewart Island, Fiordland and Otago until 11pm tonight. 

State Highway 97 (Mossburn to Lowther) in Southland closed at 2.55pm today after gale-force winds caused a campervan and truck to blow over and trees to fall on the road. No one was injured. The road reopened at 6.35pm as the wind eased.

Strong northwest winds of 57kmh with gusts of up to 130kmh hit Wanaka, prompting Cardrona Alpine Resort to close their ski lifts about 1.35pm. MetService said Wanaka Airport recorded its strongest wind gust since records began of 115km/h. 

Snow from Sunday

On Sunday, Dunedin, Mosgiel, Middlemarch, Waitati, Clutha, Te Anau, Wanaka, Queenstown and Alexandra can expect rain to develop  in the morning, and snow was possible down to 200 metres.

Fresh southerlies would develop in the morning and ease in the evening.

On Monday, everywhere except Clutha and Te Anau could expect partly cloudy conditions, with a few sleety showers or snow flurries down to 200 metres, and easterlies.

Temperatures were forecast to drop as low as -3degC and the highs were not expected to reach double digits until the end of next week, a MetService spokesman said.

‘‘While this snow may affect roads and cause disruption, it is unlikely that warning amounts of snow will accumulate.’’

He urged residents to consult their relevant regional forecasts for further information.

Heavy rain 

The forecast heavy rain, warm temperatures and "significant snowmelt" has prompted MetService to warn of rapidly rising rivers and streams in the Otago and Canterbury area. 

A MetService spokesman said a front, preceded by strong and moist northwest winds, was expected to move northeast over the South Island today and tomorrow, bringing heavy rain to the west and the headwaters of the Otago and Canterbury lakes and rivers.

"Significant snowmelt" was also likely to occur and freezing level was expected to be between 2300m and 2400m, the spokesman said.

Orange heavy rain warnings have been issued for the areas.

In the headwaters of the Otago lakes and rivers, up to 220mm of rain is expected about the divide, and up to 90mm within 25km east of the divide between 5pm tonight and 6am tomorrow. Peak rates of up to 25mmh are expected about the divide. Rainfall amounts and peak rates were expected to be similar in the headwaters of the Canterbury lakes and rivers, between 8pm tonight and 11am tomorrow.

In Fiordland, up to 250mm is expected to fall and thunderstorms are possible until 6am tomorrow.

Heavy rain may cause streams and rivers to rise rapidly. Surface flooding and slips were also possible and driving conditions may be hazardous.

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

- additional reporting ODT Online

 

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