Cold, windy weather, but NZ avoids direct hit from winter cyclone

By Paul Harper, APNZ staff

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Snow seen over Lake Wakatipu off Glenorchy Road just after 10am this morning. Photo / Carman Hagen
Snow seen over Lake Wakatipu off Glenorchy Road just after 10am this morning. Photo / Carman Hagen

New Zealand has missed a direct hit with a winter cyclone but that is no reprieve from cold, windy weather.

Head WeatherWatch analyst Philip Duncan said the cyclone only nicked Stewart Island and rough weather this week was coming in two parts.

"It narrowly missed us which is great news for Southland and Stewart Island residents - it was too close for comfort.''

He said the first part of the bad weather was the centre of the storm, "this is where those hurricane force winds lie, wrapped tightly around the centre as you would normally see in a tropical cyclone.''

The second part lies with the overall storm itself, "while not living up to the wind speeds at the centre, the very strong southwest flow which is now pressing across the country brings with it a range of severe weather''.

Torrential downpours caused surface flooding around Taranaki this morning along with thunderstorms. Palmerston North and Wanganui also experienced heavy rain.

This morning thunderstorms and torrential downpours have been reported around Auckland and Waikato with reports of a hailstorm in Hamilton.

The thunder around Auckland occurred mostly to the north and south of the city centre and Mr Duncan said heavy showers were on the way.

"Aucklanders woke to a calm, mild, morning, but it will be colder, windier and wetter for the next day or two.''

The first surge of squally winds are moving up the South Island's West Coast and will move into Taranaki and the North Island's western coastline this afternoon and evening.

In the South Island snow continues to fall in Queenstown said weather analyst Richard Green. He said snow has been falling off and on in the town since yesterday and may continue for another day.

MetService spokesman Daniel Corbett said snow levels have been dropping to around sea level over the far south of the South Island.

He said 30-40cm of snow could accumulate above 400m from Buller to Fiordland, while 10-20cm could accumulate about 200m over the course of the day.

In Southland to the west and south of Winton, 15-25cm could accumulate above 300m.

MetService have warned these amounts of snow have the potential to affect roads and passes, and the weight of accumulated snow could damage trees, powerlines and weak structures.

Queenstown will continue to receive snow off and on today, tonight and tomorrow. Snow is also expected on the North Island's Desert Road later today and tomorrow.

Dunedin and Christchurch were enjoying sunny weather today thanks to the sheltering affect of the Southern Alps said Mr Duncan, but Dunedin had a moderate risk of snow flurries overnight and on Wednesday.

Strong wind warnings had been lifted for Fiordland, Southland, Canterbury, Marlborough, Wellington and Wairarapa.

According to the NZ Transport Agency website, State Highway 94 from Te Anau to Milford Sound is closed due to snow and is expected to remain so all day.

SH80 from Pukaki to Mt Cook and SH8 from Fairlie to Twizel are closed to towing vehicles due to ice.

Due to snow, vehicles require chains to travel on SH73 Porters Pass, SH8 Lindis Pass, and SH73 Arthurs Pass To Otira.

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