Wintry blast expected later this week

A cold snap is expected to hit the country at the end of the week to remind New Zealanders that winter is not quite over.

Forecasters have predicted it will not be as severe as the last icy blast which blanketed most of the country in snow, but they are warning it will still be cold.

Weather Watch chief analyst Philip Duncan said the blast would be short and sharp.

"It's not a huge one, but it's enough to remind us all that we're not in summer yet."

The latest cold front would be a miniature version of the one that sent temperatures plummeting two weeks ago, he said.

That brought scatterings of snow to Auckland and gave the city its coldest daily high, and caused chaos for the rest of the country.

The next front should move in over the South Island late Thursday and travel up over the North Island on Friday, Mr Duncan said.

"But there's not very much moisture in this system, so while it will be cold it's not going to be like the snow event we saw earlier this month - so that's the good news."

Snow was most likely to fall in Southland and Otago, but the heaviest falls would be in Canterbury, although it might not settle.

MetService forecaster Sarah Garlick said snow was also expected in Wellington on Rimutaka Hill, which was closed during the last cold blast when about 100 motorists became trapped in their cars.

"But [it] will be nowhere near as cold as that last event," Ms Garlick said.

Snow was also expected to fall on the Desert Rd, but the rest of the North Island should be unaffected.

Mr Duncan said the high, which was dredging up the cold air from the Antarctic, was 30% smaller than the one which brought the earlier heavy snowfalls.

The wintry pattern should have cleared by the weekend, bringing clear days, but frosty nights.


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