Get those winter woollies out

HOT TICKET: David Phipps, owner of Wellington's Ablaze stores, flat out yesterday selling firewood as the first cold snap of the season made itself felt.
HOT TICKET: David Phipps, owner of Wellington's Ablaze stores, flat out yesterday selling firewood as the first cold snap of the season made itself felt.

It's time to pull out the winter woollies, with lingering cold air dropping morning temperatures to freezing around the region.

Upper Hutt reached a low of -2 degrees Celsius overnight. Things would not improve much for the rest of the week, with lows of 2C to wake up to in some areas, MetService forecaster Elke Louw said.

Wellingtonians were forecast to get early-morning temperatures of 4C for the next several days.

"Pulling out the warm jackets and winter blankets seems to be a good idea."

The weekend's cold front brought 148kmh gales and heavy rain to the lower North Island, and cut power to thousands of homes. About 300 Powerco customers in Wairarapa and Tararua remained without power this morning.

It left the South Island blanketed in snow yesterday. Flights out of Queenstown were cancelled, many schools across Dunedin shut for the day, and several roads, including Arthur's Pass and Haast Pass, were closed by slips.

Snow also fell in the central North Island, although the Desert Road and Rimutaka Hill Road remained open. Caution was urged on the Rimutaka Hill this morning, however, due to winter driving conditions.

Heatpumps and firewood have become the latest must-buy items. Home-heating specialist David Phipps said firewood orders to his two Ablaze stores in Wellington quadrupled yesterday from normal.

"So the southerly came through about 12 o'clock, and since about two o'clock bags, bags, bags and trailers have flown out the door.

"We've had a lot of phone calls for fireplace servicing as well, people thinking ‘Gosh, I need to get the chimney swept'."

For the rest of the week, frosts are forecast around the lower North Island, with particularly severe ones in Taupo. Temperatures on the Central Plateau would drop to as low as -3C overnight this week, Louw said.

The cold would hang around, with temperatures not expected to top 13C in Wellington, Wairarapa and Taupo for most of the week. Napier people would also notice some crisp mornings. "Around those regions, drivers must take care for black ice on the roads."

Wellington and Wairarapa would experience slightly warmer temperatures during the day on Thursday, with a high of 17C forecast.

But the relief would be short-lived, with another southerly front barrelling through during the day, Louw said.

The "cold Antarctic blast" would bring gales and rain to the region and leave another parcel of colder air in its wake.

"Friday morning looks like it will be cool once again."

The weekend, though cold, was forecast to be mostly clear.


148kmh winds

4200 homes in Wellington, Wairarapa and Taranaki without power

7 flights in and out of Queenstown Airport cancelled

50cm of snow on the Remarkables, and snow to sea level in the lower South Island.

Up to 2cm of snow on the Desert Road

Minus 12 degrees Celsius in Cromwell, the lowest forecast temperature overnight 

The Dominion Post