Wrap up for weekend wintry blast

A dusting of snow on the Crown Range. More snow showers are forecast for the road on Sunday....
A dusting of snow on the Crown Range. More snow showers are forecast for the road on Sunday. Photo: MetService
A wintry blast  is set to continue in parts of the South Island this weekend, with severe gales, thunderstorms and snow down to 500 metres.

MetService said a strong gusty cold west to southwest flow, with a series of embedded fronts, was forecast to affect New Zealand through to Monday, begore gradually easing on Tuesday.

It warned of strong winds for Clutha from 9am until 10pm today and another period of gale southwesterlies was likely about the coast during Sunday morning and afternoon.

High winds overnight knocked down a security fence at the ACC building construction site near Queens Gardens in Dunedin.

A police spokesman said they received a report about construction fences being blown over in Downling St about 8.30am, but there were no other weather-related events in the city overnight.

High winds knocked down a security fence at a building site near Dunedin's Queens Gardens on...
High winds knocked down a security fence at a building site near Dunedin's Queens Gardens on Saturday. PHOTO GREGOR RICHARDSON
A strong wind watch is in place for Dunedin and North Otago from 9am on Saturday until 2am on Sunday and coastal Southland including Stewart Island on Saturday from 9am until 7pm.

Southwest winds were also likely to bring severe gales in exposed parts of North Otago, Dunedin, coastal Southland and Stewart Island on Sunday.

And more severe gales have been predicted for Clutha, coastal Southland and Stewart Island in exposed places at times from Monday until early on Wednesday.

For Banks Peninsula, southwest winds may approach severe gale on Sunday.

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

Meanwhile,  thunderstorms and rain were forecast for northern Westland, Buller and western parts of Kahurangi National Park on Saturday morning, and a lower risk about other parts of Westland. 

Snow forecast for southern areas 

Cold air was forecast to bring snow down to about 500 metres across Southland and southern parts of Otago during Saturday.

However, the snow was not expected to meet warning criteria at this stage, MetService said, but could affect higher roads and alpine passes and stress to livestock across parts of the South Island.

Snow showers were likely on the Crown Range Road, linking Queenstown and Wanaka, from 2pm until 11pm on Sunday, with 1cm to 3cm settling on the road above 700 metres.

In Southland, a few snow showers were forecast for the Milford Road (State Highway 94) from 3pm to 8pm on Sunday, but  little if any snow was expected to settle.

Avalanche warnings 

A cold front has brought the first snowstorm of the season for the Southern Alps, with more than 1.5 metres falling at Aoraki/Mt Cook in Canterbury since Tuesday.

The New Zealand Avalanche Advisory has issued warnings for dangerous conditions in alpine and high alpine areas of the national park, and a moderate danger alert for sub alpine areas.

It said snow was expected to fall above 1000 metres, with winds forecast to increase to severe gale this weekend.

The popular Mueller Hut route reaches 1800 metres and the advisory said anyone planning to head into avalanche terrain would need advanced safety skills and very careful route-finding.

"The wind direction will shift to the southwest over the weekend and wind speeds are forecast to increase to severe gale again.

"The risk of Wind Slab avalanches will increase."

It also recommended anyone heading above the snowline to take an ice axe and crampons.

- ODT Online and RNZ 


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