Heavy snow cover extends hoar frost's icy grip

A burst of mid-afternoon sun yesterday made no difference to ice (right) on fence wires at the...
A burst of mid-afternoon sun yesterday made no difference to ice (right) on fence wires at the corner of State Highway 85 and the north end of the St Bathans Loop Rd.
Parts of Central Otago are this week in the frozen grip of winter's first hoar frost.

Temperatures in Alexandra and Cromwell have struggled to get above zero, while high cloud and fog kept the sun obscured.

Further afield, in the Ida Valley, the situation is even more grim.

Oturehua Tavern publican Grahame Jones said night-time temperatures as low as -15degC have been recorded there.

Temperatures taken each day between 8am and 9am have, for the past few weeks, ranged from -6degC to -11degC.

Fog has condensed and frozen on to willow trees by the Manuherekia River, near Becks. Photos by...
Fog has condensed and frozen on to willow trees by the Manuherekia River, near Becks. Photos by Colin Williscroft.
While it was not uncommon last winter to record -15degC temperatures, this year had been harder to deal with.

"It's worse this winter because there's much more snow. We've had three falls so far. We had 18 inches [nearly 46cm] on the back lawn. I've had to put grit on the driveway.

"Everyone's getting fed up with it. Two weeks ago, people couldn't get into the pub on Saturday morning because there was so much snow at the front door."

The situation is only slightly better further along Ida Valley.

Poolburn farmer Graham Sinnamon said he hadn't seen the sun for days. He said on his farm the temperature had been as low as -6degC, with an average between -5degC and -2degC.

Mr Sinnamon said while the hoar frost provided some beautiful views, "the novelty wears off after a couple of days".

"You spend the summer wishing for winter and no wind, but once it arrives you wouldn't mind a northwesterly to blow that stuff away."

- colin.williscroft@odt.co.nz

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