South shivers in wintry blast

The Crown Range Road this morning. Photo: MetService
The Crown Range Road this morning. Photo: MetService
It's a wintry start to the weekend, with temperatures plummeting and snow falling in parts of the South Island affecting highways and causing headaches for drivers on the Crown Range Rd.

Snow was forecast to fall down to 400 metres in Southland and Otago today, and to 500 metres in Canterbury.

State Highway 73 Springfield to Arthur's Pass (Porters Pass) in Canterbury is closed due to snow on Saturday afternoon, the NZ Transport Agency advised.

Earlier, at least two vehicles became stuck in wintry conditions near the Crown Range Road in the Queenstown Lakes area, police said.

A car had been stuck in a ditch and a Jucy rental van had also been stuck off the road about 8.15am, a spokeswoman said.

A passing motorist had advised that the people in the vehicles were OK, and the motorist was able to keep moving safely because his vehicle had chains fitted, she said.

Police went to the area and it is understood that arrangements were made to move the vehicles and their occupants to safety.

The MetService forecast snow to fall on an already white Crown Range, linking Queenstown and Wanaka, this morning, with between 2cm  and 4cm to settle near the summit between 7am and 10am, and lesser amounts down to 500m.

Another period of snow was likely for Sunday morning. From about 7am to 10am, up to 2cm may settle near the summit.

A spokesman for the Queenstown Lakes District Council said rain had also fallen on the Crown Range and warned that ice was likely to form.

Sleety rain was falling in Kingston and would make its way up towards Frankton, Queenstown and Arrowtown, he said.

Road users were advised to drive to the winter conditions, carry chains and reduce speeds accordingly. 

<iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.faceboo..." width="552" height="505" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe>In Central Otago, a spokeswoman for the district council said snow was falling around Oturehua, Wedderburn and Naseby areas this morning. Clearing was under way and conditions will be monitored.

Road users were warned to take care, as ice was likely on bridge decks, shaded areas and hill sections. 

The Lindis Pass (State Highway 8) between Omarama and Tarras has been closed due to snow and ice this morning. 

Danseys Pass Road is restricted to 4WD (from the gates past the Danseys Pass Hotel) due to snow and ice.

MetService meteorologist Andy Best told The New Zealand Herald a nasty southerly change bringing rain and snow would move up the South Island this morning.

Coastal areas of Central Otago and the Canterbury Plains can expect heavy rain in the morning after Dunedin was doused earlier today, about 5.30am.

Southland and Clutha can expect snow to 400m above sea level before easing to isolated showers about midday.

"There will be snow down to about 400m in Fiordland this morning," Best said. "It looks like maybe some heavy rain on the west coast of the South Island too.

"As [the change] pushes up through Canterbury, we're expecting snow this evening down to between 400m to 500m and between 600m to 700m around the Kaikoura coast."

Timaru Airport was the coldest place in the country this morning, at -5.3degC, with Pukaki not far behind at -4.3degC. Christchurch had freezing conditions and fog overnight.

MILFORD ROAD

The Milford Road (SH94) reopened about 10am today from Te Anau to Milford Sound. Light snow has settled near the summit and the road will close from East Gate (Hollyford) to West Gate (Chasm) at 5.30pm as more snow is forecast overnight and for Sunday morning.

Some 10cm to 15cm of snow may settle near the top of the road. Milford Road Alliance said the road was likely to reopen about midday on Sunday, once conditions improve.

There will be traffic delays due to scheduled tunnel works for today and next week starting from Monday. Closures at the tunnel are from 10.30am to 12.30pm, 1.30pm to 4pm and 6pm to midnight. Daytime closures will have hourly clearances of traffic.

SNOW FOR ALPINE ROADS

MetService has updated its snow forecast for alpine roads over the weekend:

Lewis Pass (SH7)

A period of snow is expected on Saturday afternoon. From 3pm to 6pm, some 6cm to 12cm of snow may settle about the summit of the road, with lesser amounts down to about 600 metres.

Arthur's Pass (SH73)

A period of snow is expected on Saturday afternoon. From about 1pm to 4pm, some 3cm to 5cm of snow may settle about the summit of the road, with lesser amounts down to around 600 metres. Another period of snow is expected on Sunday afternoon, when 1cm  to 2cm of snow may settle near the summit.

Porters Pass (SH73)
A period of snow is expected this, Saturday afternoon. From about midday to 4pm on Saturday some 5cm to 8cm of snow may settle about the summit of the road, with lesser amounts down to around 500 metres.

Lindis Pass (SH8)

A period of snow is likely from late on Saturday morning until early afternoon. From about 9am to 12am, some 3cm to 5cm of snow may settle on the road. Another period of snow is likely late on Sunday morning when 1 or 2cm of snow may settle near the summit.

Haast Pass (SH6)

A period of snow is expected on Saturday morning. From 8am to 11am, about 1cm of snow may settle about the summit of the road. Another period of snow is likely on Sunday morning. From about 7am to 11am, between 2cm to 4cm of snow may settle about the summit.

- ODT Online and NZ Herald 

 

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