Bundle up: snow on horizon this weekend

Make the most of the warmer weather this week because temperatures are expected to plummet this weekend, bringing snow to coastal Otago on Sunday.

MetService meteorologist Peter Little said strong northwesterlies would pass over the region during the next few days, bringing temperatures up to 17degC today and tomorrow.

"There is high confidence that a heavy rain warning will be needed for Fiordland during Thursday and Friday, and also for Westland south of Otira and the headwaters of the Otago and Canterbury lakes and rivers from late Thursday to early Saturday.

"With regards to strong winds, there is moderate confidence of severe northwest gales in Fiordland, Southland and Clutha on Thursday and Friday, while there is high confidence of northwesterlies rising to severe gale in exposed places of Otago (excluding Clutha) on Friday and early Saturday."

Fiordland, Southland, Stewart Island and Otago could expect northwest gales to be severe at times, with gusts reaching 140 km/h in exposed places from 6am until 11pm on Friday.

Strong wind gusts could damage trees, powerlines and unsecured structures. Driving may be hazardous, especially for high-sided vehicles and motorcycles.

Later on Saturday, a complex trough was expected to arrive from the southeast and pass over on Saturday and early Sunday.

Mr Little said it would be driven by a high to the south of the country which would "just sit there, feeding in this cold air from down south", bringing more heavy rain to much of New Zealand and possibly snow to low levels in the Dunedin, Mosgiel, Waitati, Middlemarch and Clutha areas.

"There is some pretty cold weather on the way.

"At the moment, snow flurries are possible down to 500m in the Dunedin area."

The cold front would weaken on Sunday, and a ridge of high pressure would follow next week, potentially bringing morning frosts and daily highs of about 7degC, he said.

Temperatures were not expected to return to double digits until Friday next week.

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