Snow falls in downtown Wellington
Motorists trapped in snowbound vehiclesBRONWYN TORRIE
The worst snowstorm in decades blanketed Wellington to sea level, stranding motorists and cutting power to thousands of homes – but even worse is yet to come.
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Freezing temperatures and heavy snow dumps caused havoc across New Zealand yesterday, with Wellington badly hit by the polar blast.
MetService is predicting heavier snow today for Southland, Otago, Canterbury, Marlborough, Wellington, Kapiti, Manawatu and Taranaki.
The cold snap is expected to remain until Thursday.
Strong southerly gales, fresh off the Antarctic ice-shelf, would lash New Zealand making it feel bitterly cold and creating blizzard conditions in places, forecaster Hordur Thordarson said.
Two Air New Zealand planes were affected by lightning strikes yesterday and grounded for engineering checks.
The National Hockey League men's final in Wellington was called off 20 minutes early when heavy rain turned into hail then snow.
Wellington was blanketed in snow with flurries to sea level for the first time in decades, with motorists forced to abandon cars as road conditions deteriorated.
The Rimutaka Hill Road was closed just before 6pm last night – stranding 100 motorists and sparking a police rescue mission.
The Desert Road was also closed last night because of snow and ice, along with several state highways in the South Island.
Civil Defence was advising Canterbury residents to ensure they had at least three days' food and to check on neighbours.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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