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Snow has started falling and settling in Dunedin's hill suburbs.
State Highway 87 between Outram and Kyeburn is closed because of snow. The road was closed about 6pm. There are also reports of snow in West Otago, with a caution on SH90 between Crookston and Tapanui.
The Metservice has several severe weather warnings in place for the lower South Island, including for heavy snow in the south and severe gales in coastal Otago, which combined could cause major traffic disruption and trouble for stock and farmers in the south.
Periods of heavy snow are expected to start this evening and continue through to Monday afternoon.
By mid afternoon tomorrow around 20cm snow is expected above 300 metres in parts of Otago, Fiordland and Southland. Lower down, 10 to 15cm is expected down to 200 metres and lesser amounts to sea level, the forecaster says in one of several severe weather warnings issued this morning.
About Dunedin City 5 to 10cm is likely to accumulate, but 15cm about higher suburbs. The city recorded a high of 9degC today, at 6am, and temperatures steadily fell to about 3degC at 5.30pm.
The heaviest falls are expected tonight and Monday morning, when 10 to 15cm could accumulate above 300 metres in a 6-hour period.
The snow would come on the back of the "very cold" southwesterly weather pattern already making itself felt in the south.
Heavy snow in the regions is likely to cause major disruption to traffic and make driving conditions hazardous, Metservice says.
Farmers were advised that stock might need shelter from the extreme cold and snow.
Severe southwest gales gusting up to 120kmh were also expected about coastal parts of Otago south of Moeraki and on Banks Peninsula from tonight through to Tuesday morning.
Winds of that strength could topple trees, damage powerlines and unsecured structures, Metservice warned.
"Coupled with the expected snow in these areas, the blizzard like conditions will make travel difficult."