Rain and snow coming for South

Forecast for Saturday at noon. Everything inside the purple line is snow, potentially down to...
Forecast for Saturday at noon. Everything inside the purple line is snow, potentially down to 400m. Image: MetService
The first major cold snap of the winter is expected to hit much of the southern region on Friday and Saturday, bringing snow down to 400 metres.

A MetService spokesman said this afternoon although there was minimal risk of widespread severe weather during the weekend, it was likely that snowfall warnings would be issued for some roads.

A low over the Tasman Sea would cross the North Island on Friday, followed by a narrow ridge of high pressure.

‘‘The low should bring a period of rain and strong cold southerlies to much of the country, and snow to some of the South Island mountains and passes.’’

The spokesman said the cold front was expected to move northward over southern and central New Zealand on Saturday, then the remainder of the country on Sunday, followed by a southwesterly flow.

‘‘Another period of rain or showers and strong southerlies is forecast for many areas over the weekend.

‘‘Snow is forecast down to 400 metres over southern New Zealand on Saturday, likely affecting many of the South Island mountains and passes.’’

SNOW WARNINGS

MetService has issued a snowfall warning from Thursday for some alpine roads, the Crown Range Road linking Queenstown and Wanaka, and the Milford Road.

ARTHUR'S PASS (SH 73)

Snow may affect the summit of the road for a time from Thursday evening through to early Friday morning. Between 6pm Thursday and 2am Friday, up to 1cm of snow may settle on the road near the summit.

PORTERS PASS (SH 73)
Snow is expected to affect higher parts of the road from Thursday evening through to early Friday morning. Between 6pm Thursday and 6am Friday, 2 to 4cm of snow may settle on the road near the summit, with lesser amounts down to 800 metres.

LINDIS PASS (SH 8)
Snow may affect the summit of the road for a time Thursday. Between 9am and 2pm Thursday, up to 1cm of snow may settle on the road near the summit.

CROWN RANGE ROAD
Snow may affect the summit of the road for a time Thursday. Between 8am and 1pm Thursday, up to 1cm of snow may settle on the road near the summit.

MILFORD ROAD (SH 94)
Snow may affect the road for a time Thursday morning. Between 5am and 10am
Thursday, up to 2cm of snow may settle on the road near the tunnel.

RAIN ON THURSDAY

Meanwhile,  pack an umbrella on Thursday. We’re in for some rain.

A MetService spokesman said a cold front was forecast to move northwards across the South Island, bringing a cold southerly change and rain to many places - particularly in Southland, where a "heavy rain watch" was now in force.

The spokesman said the watch was valid from 1am until 1pm, when rainfall amounts may approach warning criteria, especially in the north of the region.

Otago could also expect rain - with coastal and inland areas set for a soaking as the cold front moved through.

Residents were advised to keep up to date with the latest forecasts in case the watches were upgraded, or further areas were added.

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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