Wrap up tight, big freeze coming

By Roger Moroney

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The coldest week of the year so far is set to descend on Hawke's Bay with the MetService's forecast a simple and chilling one - there's plenty more to come.

"Typically, from now until mid-August, we are entering the coldest time of the year," meteorologist Liz Walsh said.

Temperatures forecast from Monday through the rest of the working week reflect that.

By next Friday the night-time temperatures will have fallen steadily to zero across the Bay, while in Central Hawke's Bay the temperatures will enter the minus zone by Wednesday, with daytime temperatures dropping as low as 6C in some areas.

For the twin cities, today appears to be the best of it, although cloud and rain are forecast to take over late in the afternoon with periods of rain and "freshening" southerlies set to arrive tomorrow.

It is all downhill from there, with showers on and off and southwesterlies dominating through until Thursday, with maximums of 11C or 12C.

Ms Walsh said the mid-winter culprit was a set of low pressure systems which had effectively sandwiched the whole of New Zealand between them. Cold southerly winds were being driven up both islands as a result.

The good news for the region was that snow was unlikely to create any problems - only parts of Canterbury were set to get it to low levels at this stage.

Farmers, however, were keeping an eye on the rain and chill factor. They were now entering lambing and calving, Hawke's Bay Federated Farmers provincial president Will Foley said.

"The main issue we would have at this time is prolonged wet or cold, but the thing in our favour is that most stock is in pretty good condition and the seed situation is good."

In past years of coming out of drought conditions, stock had been underfed and in less than good shape to get through severe cold or wet spells.

"But at this stage it is not looking too bad."

Mr Foley said the height of lambing and calving would "hit its straps" in early August and through to September.

On Thursday morning, rain which turned to black ice and a light dusting of snow which turned to slush closed SH5 between Napier and Taupo for about an hour. While there was no snow forecast at this stage, New Zealand Transport Agency spokesman Anthony Frith said drivers using the stretch needed to take a "be prepared just in case" approach.

He advised travellers to pack extra warm clothes and maybe a couple of blankets in the event of a closure.

"And drive very cautiously."

Tarawera resident Colin Baker said there had only been light dustings of snow across the peaks of the high country there, but conditions were "damp and bit cool".

He said the winter so far had been milder than last year, except there had been more rain. "But there's still plenty of winter to go yet."

The surfing fraternity had not let the cold deter them from taking advantage of easterly and southerly swells of between 1m and 2.5m were forecast for the Bay coastline. Several surfers were spotted yesterday at te Awanga enjoying the breaks.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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