Schools close as snow hits South Island

By John Lewis

Several schools are closed, Dunedin's Northern Motorway is closed and bus services affected as snow and ice settle around the city this morning.

The following schools are closed for the day: Otago Girls' High, King's High, Queen's High, Taieri College, Kaikorai Valley College, East Otago High, Dunedin North Intermediate, John McGlashan College, St Mary's Kaikorai School, Waitati Primary, Palmerston Primary and Flag Swamp School.

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All other primary and intermediate schools and kindergartens from Mosgiel to Port Chalmers to Waikouaiti will start at 10am.

READ MORE:
Temperatures to plummet across New Zealand

Several high schools are also starting at 10am, including: Bayfield, Logan Park, John McGlashan, St Hilda's, Otago Boys'.

Columba and Kavanagh will start at 11am.

The Otago Regional Council advises that all bus services in the city's hill suburbs are suspended. Opoho and Pine Hill services are terminating at the Gardens, the Shiel Hill service at Bayfield, and the Concord service at the Octagon.

Most roads are open, except for the Northern Motorway, Mt Cargill and Three Mile Hill.
State Highway 1 Palmerston-Waitati and SH87 Outram-Middlemarch are closed to towing vehicles, and a slip has closed one lane of SH8 in the Manuka Gorge.

Flights to and from Dunedin Airport are on schedule.

The disruption comes despite MetService having downgraded its warning for heavy snow in Dunedin and North Otago over the next few days.


A complex low pressure system, moving slowly northeastwards across the country, was expected to bring rain to many parts of the country, with snow to low levels in eastern parts of the South Island today and tomorrow.

However, MetService communications meteorologist Lisa Murray said the forecast warnings for heavy snow in Dunedin and North Otago had been lifted, because the "low" moving across the North Island was further north than expected.

Despite the downgrade, Ms Murray said meteorologists were keeping a close eye on the situation.

As a result of the weather warnings, most rugby games in the city have been cancelled for this weekend, and King's High School postponed its open night in Dunedin last night for fear the weather would be too dangerous for staff, prospective pupils and parents to travel in.

Rector Dan Reddiex was not upset by the disruption.

Brockville woke to snow. Photo / Stephen Jaquiery
Brockville woke to snow. Photo / Stephen Jaquiery

"We decided to postpone it, based on the weather forecast we had at our disposal [on Wednesday]. That was for snow to low levels today [Thursday], and with the probability that it might have frozen, we just decided it was probably logical to postpone it."

The open night will now be held next Thursday (August 11).

Football South is holding off on the decision to cancel football games this weekend.

"We've been caught out before when it hasn't snowed, so we'll make our decision at the last minute [on Friday night]," Football South game development manager Tracy Fleet said.


Ms Murray was aware the forecast may have caused some disruption, but said the elements for heavy snowfall were there, and the MetService was taking a precautionary approach.

"We're doing the best that we can with what [the information] we've got," she said.

"We're trying to get a message out to the public so that they're not putting their lives at risk by driving on the roads or being isolated in a snowfall event."

She said there would be a southeast flow during the next few days, which may bring scattered showers to coastal areas and some snow down to 100m inland.

"It's going to be really cold, colder than we've already had.

"You'll see frosts in the city on Saturday into Sunday. It may get down to -2degC. But inland areas, even Dunedin Airport, may get down to -8degC on Saturday night."

She warned of patches of black ice on roads in the area.

"It's gradually getting colder and colder as this air mass moves in.

"If a shower goes over, it's going to fall with snow.

"But there won't be a massive dump of snow. It's not a front moving over."

On Sunday, the weather was expected to be mostly fine, with showers later in the day.

- Otago Daily Times

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