Snow flurries and sleet as wintry blast heads north

A snow fight breaks out in Queenstown. Photo / Ben De Haan
A snow fight breaks out in Queenstown. Photo / Ben De Haan

The weather system that brought heavy snow to Otago and Southland was this morning sitting just north of Christchurch and is heading up the country.

Sleet was falling in Christchurch, MetService meteorologist Elke Louw said, and there had been the odd snow flurry reported.

Timelapse: Snow hits Dunedin


A strong southerly would build in Wellington this afternoon, Ms Louw said, as the weather system made its way north.


There would be showers in the city with a cold wind-factor, she said.

"There could be a light dusting of snow around the Rimutaka Hills."

As the weather moves north it will weaken, and there will be a respite from the wind and snow for the south tomorrow, which presents a new danger.

"There will be black ice on roads in places in the south," Ms Louw said.

Severe frost is expected in the central South Island and North Island tomorrow morning.

Another cold Antarctic blast behind this front was likely to bring snow once again to low levels in the south and east of the South Island into Thursday, she said.

This front would move quickly up the North Island later on Thursday, before another clearing, frosty ridge starts to build towards the weekend.

Meanwhile, power is being restored to properties that were cut off overnight in Tararua and Wairarapa after wind gusts around 120 km/h brought trees down on to lines.

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Powerco Acting Network Operations Manager Dean Stevenson said because of the settles weather today the company had been able to get helicopters to survey damage and access remote areas of the network.

Currently around 2000 properties were still without power.

"We expect to get the majority of customers back on by the end of the day barring further severe weather and will also look to get generators out to customers in some of the remote areas where repairs are likely to take several days," Mr Stevenson said.

Main highways in the South Island have been disrupted by the snow fall. State Highway 94 from Te Anau to Milford Sound, State Highway 85 from Kyeburn to Palmerston, State Highway 1 from Dunedin to Waitati and State Highway 87 from Outram to Middlemarch remain closed.

The Interislander ferries have not been disrupted and flights in and out of major airports in the South Island continue as normal.

Snow fell to sea level from Invercargill to Dunedin overnight and was the first major snowfall of the season.

Schools closed as snow blankets Otago

Several schools in Dunedin have closed and many others have delayed opening until 10am.

Otago Boys' High School, Otago Girls' High School, Logan Park High School, St Hilda's Collegiate and Kavanagh College are all closed.

Bayfield High School, Kaikorai Valley College, John McGlashan College, Kings and Queens high schools and Columba College have delayed 10am starts.

All primary and intermediate schools and kindergartens between Mosgiel to Port Chalmers to Waikouaiti have a delayed start today and will open at 10am.

The Dunedin City Council said bus services had been suspended on all hill and southern routes.

The Queenstown District Council said all roads were affected by snow. The Crown Range is closed and all other main routes are open but chains are needed on roads where snowploughs are yet to reach.

Close call with shipping container

A woman was almost crushed by a toppled shipping container in Dunedin on Saturday as wind gusts of up to 120km/h wreaked havoc in the south.

Ploni White was helping take items out of her family's container when a gust ripped through Ravensbourne, Dunedin, with such force a nearby container began to fall towards her. "It missed me by inches," she said.

She crawled from behind the wreckage to find her granddaughter sitting in her pram - unscathed - nearby.

"If it had fallen any other way, we both could have been squashed."

The storm brought strong winds and heavy rain to Dunedin and temperatures plunged 10C within minutes from a high of 17C.

Emergency services were inundated with calls to downed power lines and damaged poles, while power authorities scrambled to restore electricity to 1790 Dunedin consumers.

- additional reporting, Otago Daily Times


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