Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Wintry blast eases its icy grip on country

Mercury forecast to drop to icy levels today, with squally thunderstorms, hail and 100km/h winds in some areas.

The wintry blast that has caused havoc around the country is easing its icy grip but forecasters warn more of the same is on the way.

Strong winds cut power in some centres and halted ferries and flights in the capital as a southerly worked its way up the country, closing roads because of ice, snow, slips and felled trees.

More than 500 homes and businesses were still without power in Taranaki this evening after it was cut to some 15,500 properties yesterday by trees pulling down overhead lines.

Powerco network operations manager Phil Marsh said additional field staff from other regions had been called to assist in the clean-up and to help respond to new faults.

In Wellington, Cook Strait ferry services have resumed after heavy seas whipped up by the bad weather halted them yesterday.

A KiwiRail spokeswoman said it was still a very bumpy ride between the islands but normal service had resumed, albeit about four hours behind schedule.

Several flights were delayed at Wellington Airport this morning after many flights were cancelled yesterday. An airport spokeswoman said a backlog of passengers was being cleared.

On the up side, WeatherWatch says a high will push into many parts of the country over coming days, especially the North Island.

However, New Zealanders would barely have time to appreciate the settled weather before it was followed by another low, the forecaster said.

"This is what we mean when we say we have a chaotic weather pattern this winter - we can get the big southerlies but also big warm, wet, lows,'' head weather analyst Philip Duncan said.

"In true chaotic fashion the wintry weather today will give way to warmer weather later this week and early next week, then again gives way to yet another cold south west change late next week.''

Mr Duncan predicted July's mix of warm and cold weather would continue into August.

MetService meteorologist John Law said the change to a high would come at a price.

"As a large area of high pressure pushes its way across New Zealand, the weather will quieten down. Although we are expecting some sunnier days and lighter winds with this high pressure, we will pay for it with cold and frosty nights,'' he said.

NZS's COLDEST SPOTS IN THE 24 HOURS to 6PM

Mt Hutt: -11C at 6pm yesterday

Mid Dome, Southland: -4.6C at 6pm yesterday

Desert Rd: -4.3C at midnight

MAIN CENTRES

Auckland Airport: 5C at 8am today

Kelburn, Wellington: 3.8C at midnight

Christchurch Airport: 2.4C at 10.30pm yesterday

Dunedin City: 3.7C at 6pm yesterday

- APNZ

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