Nasty bite of winter hits

20:57, Jun 17 2013
Snow
GOOD TIMES: Then five-year-old Ari Maling enjoys 2011 snowfall in Brooklyn, Wellington.

After a rainy start to the week a ''nasty bite of winter'' is set to hit Wellington later this week as temperatures plunge and the Rimutaka hill braces for hail and snow.

''It'll get pretty ugly at the end of the week, it'll certainly look like winter on the outside of the tin,'' MetService forecaster Dan Corbett said.

WeatherWatch head analyst Philip Duncan has warned snow could fall in Wellington city to sea level and could affect air and road traffic around the lower North Island.

Showers would continue tomorrow across Wellington and Kapiti, however a dry northwesterly would keep most of the region relatively warm and dry with temperatures ranging in the mid-teens.

But by Wednesday the ''bitterly cold Antarctic air'' sweeping the country would really start to bite with occasional showers and northerlies dying out, replaced with rain and strong ''biting cold'' southerlies in the afternoon and a drop in temperature to about 8 degrees Celsius.

Those southerlies would strengthen overnight and by Thursday morning heavy bursts of rain were on the cards buoyed by strong to gale southerlies that would start to ''rip roar,'' Mr Corbett said.

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''It'll just be a real wild Wellington day when you're standing sideways with the wind kicking you past.''

By Friday the mercury could plummet to 4C with the possibility of snow down to 200m on the Rimutaka Hill Road, with soft hail also a potential motoring hazard.

''It's going to be a damn cold end to the week whatever way you slice it,'' Mr Corbett said.

The polar blast potential to bring significant snow to the south and east of the South Island, as well as central and southern parts of the North Island. Mr Corbett said the biggest dumps seemed likely about inland Canterbury and Marlborough, while snow may fall to near sea level from Southland to Kaikoura by Thursday.

However, by Saturday the wet, cold snap was forecast to break around the Wellington region with temperatures recovering by Saturday.

However, overnight frost could be a problem in the Hutt Valley and Wairarapa on Saturday.

The Dominion Post