Gales hit, snow falling

05:11, Aug 07 2014
COLD SNAP: Motorist are being warned to take care on Central Otago roads as a cold snap brings snow.

Wind is continuing to whip the capital this afternoon, while people in the south are being told to brace for more bad weather as snow starts to fall.

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A severe weather warning is in place with a front moving northeast over the country, bringing heavy rain to the West Coast of the South Island overnight and northwesterly gales about Southland, Otago, Canterbury and Wellington.

Severe gales were this afternoon hammering the capital with gusts topping 100kmh.

In the south, police were warning motorist in Central Otago to drive to conditions as snow was falling in parts of the region.

Chains were essential on State Highway 85 from Kyeburn to Omakau.

Earlier high winds in Southland and the lower North Island had caused disruption with emergency services scrambling to clear fallen trees and power lines and secure loose roofs.

A main road in Invercargill was closed off after a shop window blew out, and a schoolbus was blown off a road in the Tararua district.

While this morning's wild wind had eased in the south, MetService was warning people there not to get too comfortable with more wintry weather was on the way.

Meteorologist Liz Wash said a cold blast was expected to move in this afternoon and evening, bringing with it rain, sleet and more snow.

Winds would not be as strong as they had been overnight, but Southland was ''not out of the woods yet''.

Snow showers were likely to fall down to sea level, with up to 15cm of snow expected to settle inland, she said.

Meanwhile, police confirmed the number of weather-related call outs had dropped off after a spate early this morning.