Brrrrr - South set to shiver

Spring may be here but snow and sleet is on the way for the South, forecasters have warned.

WeatherWatch forecaster Philip Duncan said Southland and Otago would have cold southwest winds this Saturday, taking highs only into the single digits.

Snow would make it to the ski fields and sleet would fall further down, Mr Duncan said.

Mr Duncan said high pressure around Australia was mainly missing New Zealand and was instead fuelling strong winds and driving in heavy rain and showers to the west, while many eastern areas enjoyed sun.

"October often sees a spike in the unsettled weather with November often showing signs of calmer conditions and more settled patterns as we head towards the start of summer," Mr Duncan said.

The UV index was already at moderate levels for many regions.

"Despite the incoming cold change for the South Island, and some exposed North Island centres, a potent Tasman Sea low will quickly form this weekend and should bring more rain, wind and mild northerlies to northern and western regions late Sunday and into Monday, Tuesday."

A recent cold snap has brought fresh snow to the Mt Ruapehu Ski Area just in time for school holidays.

Snow has fallen to 1100 metres, with an average of 15-20cm on the upper slopes and 30cm in the gullies. More snow is forecast today.

Whakapapa Ski Area manager Steve McGill said patrol teams had reported snow pockets up to 40cm deep in places, and described the fresh snow as Mt Ruapehu champagne powder - low density, soft snow.

"The snowfall couldn't have come at a better time. It's a great bonus for this time of year, topping up the trails as we head into the spring season. It's also great timing for the school holidays," Mr McGill said.


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