More severe weather expected

SUNNY START: The sun rises over a storm-battered Southland.
SUNNY START: The sun rises over a storm-battered Southland.

Rain is expected to turn to snow overnight as parts of the country are battered by a storm.

The Metservice said snow was expected to fall on the Desert Rd tomorrow, with about two centimetres expected to accumulate by the early afternoon.

Snow was also predicted on major South Island passes.

About 130 homes remain without power in the lower North Island, with more cuts expected as high winds continue to batter the country.

Gusts of up to 130kmh have been bringing down trees across overhead lines since Friday evening, cutting power to about 4500 North Island properties.

Powerco's acting network operations manager, Dean Stevenson, said there were still about 130 properties without supply on its network this afternoon.

Of these, 70 were in the Tararua district and 60 were in Wairarapa.

"We are expecting supply to be restored to the majority of customers by tonight. However, severe weather is forecast later today so there could be more power cuts." 

The wild weather made it too dangerous for Powerco field staff to work on parts of the network in Tararua yesterday, while remote areas of Wairarapa were proving difficult to access today, he said.

"These properties face having no power overnight. We are doing all we can to restore supply and additional crews are helping repair the network damage." 

Stevenson said there had been several incidents of power lines falling to the ground. He warned people to stay clear of downed lines and treat them as live at all times.

Metservice meteorologist Elke Louw said the forecast was not looking great, with winds expected to strengthening again today in Wellington and Wairarapa.

The wind had already picked up enough to put a stop to ferry sailings on Wellington Harbour, with the last voyage at midday.

Rimutaka Hill Rd could reach gusts of up to 140kmh and the capital was expected to receive 120kmh gusts in exposed places today.

The wild weather was forecast to die down tomorrow morning but the cold southerly hammering the South Island today would bring frosty conditions early in the week.

There would be periods of rain, some heavy, in the Tararua Ranges later today.

Fiordland, Southland and South Otago were expecting snow today and the southerly wind meant it would be cold and blustery through until later tomorrow.

Southland is expected to have snow to sea-level while Dunedin should get snow in the foothills.

Jack Frost would then make his way up the country and by Tuesday morning Wellington and Masterton would be experiencing cool, frosty conditions.

Louw said the capital would wake up to a low of 4 degrees Celsius on Tuesday morning while Masterton would plummet to -3 degrees Celsius.

Temperatures would only climb in to the low teens throughout the day on Tuesday but with the wind and rain disappearing skies would be clear and sunny.

In other storm-related incidents, high winds yesterday blew a trailer across the road on State Highway 2 in the Wairarapa, near Ruamahanga Gorge Rd, south of the Mt Bruce summit, a police spokesman said.

A trailer towed by a Ford Ranger ute was blown across the road at around 2.30pm, blocking both lanes. There were no injuries, the spokesman said.