Bad weather heading north

By Heather McCracken, Matthew Backhouse

Snowfalls are expected in North Canterbury and Marlborough today as the front over the South Island moves northwards.

MetService said there had been little snow so far today, with just some scattered falls on hills around Queenstown and high points on Arthur's Pass.

Spokesman Dan Corbett said snow was expected down to about 400 or 500 metres in North Canterbury and the ranges of Marlborough later today.

"A lot of what we had from over the weekend has fizzled out and now we're waiting for the next batch to be moving in as we go through late morning to the afternoon,'' he said this morning.

Road snow warnings are in place for Lindis Pass, Arthur's Pass, Porters Pass and Lewis Pass, where rain was expected to turn to snow down to 500m later this morning. Snow was expected down to 700m, except for Porters Pass, where the snow level was expected to be 500m.

MetService has also issued severe weather warnings for the ranges of northern Westland, Buller and western Nelson.

Severe gales have also been forecast for the upper South Island and Wellington, with gusts up to 120km/h from late this afternoon.

MetService says winds of this strength can damage insecure structures, bring down trees, damage power lines and make driving hazardous.

Thunderstorms would reach Auckland by this afternoon, along with heavy rainfalls.

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