Snow news not good news

A lack of snow has delayed the opening of skifields all over New Zealand, and a decent dump is still some time away. Photo / Christine Cornege
A lack of snow has delayed the opening of skifields all over New Zealand, and a decent dump is still some time away. Photo / Christine Cornege

The skiing outlook for the upcoming school holidays is better than it was, but what is really needed is a snow storm - something not expected in the next couple of weeks, a weather analyst says.

A "sluggish and slow" weather pattern had settled over New Zealand which, if not for the fact that it was cold south of Wellington, was more reminiscent of summer, WeatherWatch.co.nz head weather analyst Philip Duncan told NZPA today.

"Everything's a bit strange this year because it's moving so slowly."

But the outlook for snow was looking better than it did, he said.

"What we really need for the mountains is a snow storm...a really big snow storm that comes through and dumps half a metre of snow, what we're getting at the moment is drips and drabs of little snow flurries that dump five centimetres here, 10cm there.

"It's certainly a more positive looking couple of weeks ahead even though we still aren't forecasting a major snow storm."

Warm temperatures had postponed skifields' opening days. After a weekend of snow-making, part of Canterbury's Mount Hutt opened yesterday while the lower skifield at Mount Ruapehu's Turoa opened today.

Whakapapa skifield on Mt Ruapehu was due to open on Saturday, while the South Island's Coronet Peak and the Remarkables were "on hold".

The forecast for snow in the second half of July could be more promising than the first half, Mr Duncan said.

"[However] there is nothing in the long range model...that shows a dramatic shift in this weather pattern that we have had basically all year."

MetService Weather Ambassador Bob McDavitt said more snow is on the way for the South Island in the coming days.

"Significant snowfalls down to about 600 metres are expected from later [today] through to Wednesday morning in Canterbury and Marlborough, with some of the higher roads in these areas likely to be affected," Mr McDavitt said.

"Snow is also expected over the central North Island mountains on Wednesday, with the snow level reaching down as far as the summit of the Desert Road."

MetService has issued a severe weather watch for thundery rain in Hawke's Bay and Gisborne overnight tonight and tomorrw morning. While rainfall totals are not expected to meet warning criteria, some intense localised downpours are possible, with rainfall rates briefly reaching 35 mm per hour, which could cause localised flash flooding.

A severe weather warning for strong southeast winds is also in effect.

"Some valleys and gorges in Westland and Buller may have wind gusts over 110 km/hr overnight Tuesday," Mr McDavitt said. "On Wednesday, strong southeasterlies are expected over much of the North Island, with parts of Bay of Plenty and Taranaki possibly having wind gusts over 110 km/hr. Take care on the roads.

"The southeasterly winds spreading over New Zealand are cold, and bring with them significant wind chill. In eastern areas of both islands, cold rain over the next day or so could place stress on vulnerable livestock."

- NZ HERALD STAFF, NZPA

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