Lindis Pass remains closed as snow work goes on

A mammoth effort is under way to clear the Lindis Pass after more than 1.5m of snow fell in the...
A mammoth effort is under way to clear the Lindis Pass after more than 1.5m of snow fell in the area. Photo: George Heard
A mammoth effort is under way to clear the Lindis Pass of more than a metre of snow.

A number of alpine passes in the South Island are closed after a dump of heavy snow over the weekend.

An NZME photojournalist at the scene said 1.5 metres of snow had fallen on the summit of the Lindis Pass (State Highway 8) over the last few days.

Contractors were doing everything they could to get the road open, they said.

Crews are working on both sides using graders and tractors to clear the large amount of snow to allow the road to open.

A spokesperson for Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency said the road would remain closed overnight. An update expected at 10am on Tuesday.

The Buller Gorge (SH6) and Milford Road (SH94) are also expected to remain closed overnight.

The gorge is closed due to a slip and the NZTA is reporting avalanche activity on SH94.

The Arthurs, Burkes, Haast and Lindis passes were all closed earlier today because of snow or ice.

Arthurs and Burkes passes reopened about 1.30pm.

Work was going on to clear the Lindis Pass of snow on Monday. Photo: George Heard
Work was going on to clear the Lindis Pass of snow on Monday. Photo: George Heard
The Ministry of Education says 12 schools across the country have closed as a result of the severe weather.

In Canterbury, Aoraki Mt Cook School has shut while seven in the Otago and Southland regions have also closed – they are Makarora School, Glenorchy School, Mt Aspiring College, Te Kur or Take Kārara, Wanaka Primary School, Holy Family School and Hāwea Flat School.

Meanwhile, weather warnings are still in place for parts of the South Island.

A severe thunderstorm watch is in force for Nelson, Buller, Westland and the Canterbury High Country until 4pm.

MetService is warning from western Tasman to the glaciers of Westland, there is a risk some thunderstorms may become severe until this afternoon.

The thunderstorms could bring large hail greater than 20mm in diameter as well as damaging winds gusting at more than 110kmh.

An orange heavy rain warning is in place for Westland south of Otira until noon and a strong wind warning has been issued for Marlborough, Westland, Buller and the Canterbury High Country.

It comes after snow blanketed parts of Central Otago yesterday, bringing joy to the region's ski fields, with Cardrona ski field opening early and other southern mountains set to follow suit in the coming days.

The wild winter weather created chaos across parts of Otago and Southland during the weekend, and forecasters are urging southerners to brace themselves for more of the same over the next few days.

Heavy rain, snow showers and winds gusting up to 100km/h kept emergency services busy in Dunedin with small landslips in Caversham; heavy flooding in Marne St, Andersons Bay; fencing and a fallen tree over roads; and ice on the Northern Motorway.

A police spokeswoman said it was a similar scene in Central Otago and the Lakes area.

Heavy rainfall yesterday caused flooding on State Highway 6 between Luggate and Cromwell as well as at the intersection of Frankton and Perkins Rds, in Queenstown.

Police were also alerted to several weather-related incidents across the region as cars struggled in slippery conditions, including a car which slid backwards on ice down Weaver St, Queenstown, about 3pm yesterday.

It became stuck and needed to be towed. No injuries were reported, she said.

Ski fields made the most of the snow storm on Saturday, but after snow drifts reached about a metre and more heavy snow fell overnight, several closed their gates yesterday.

MetService meteorologist Stephen Glassey said temperatures dropped below zero for much of the region, including Dunedin Airport where it dropped to -4.4degC yesterday morning.

He said snowfall was heaviest in the Lakes area and the Milford Rd where about 70cm fell at the Homer Tunnel; and in a rare event, it fell to sea level on Stewart Island.

 - additional reporting ODT

 

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