Snow turns to rain, thunderstorms

Last updated 12:34 08/08/2014

Snow in Dunedin

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Rain and thunderstorms will replace snow flurries as the freezing level rises in the south today.

Flights were cancelled, roads were closed and schools shut as heavy snow hit Dunedin, Queenstown and Southland.

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MetService meteorologist Liz Walsh said the snow level was rising down south from sea level to around 200 metres overnight, with that trend expected to continue.

"There's still a lot of showers around. If you're down south it will feel like it's snowing but it's actually starting to melt," she said.

Otago, Southland, and Fiordland were in line for showers with hail and thunderstorms, clearing overnight.

Westland, in the meantime, was basking in sunshine.

Canterbury was suffering from a critical southwest flow. "Most areas are quite sheltered, but Christchurch is in the firing line," Walsh said.

"Sleety showers may come in later this evening.

"Snow to 200m could be possible. People will be able to see it on the Port Hills and Banks Peninsula."

At the north of the South Island, showers would clear this afternoon.

There was a chance of thunder in Wellington, with southerly winds. Further north along the east coast the weather was fine today but would likely turn this evening with showers coming through.

Snow was likely to accumulate in the central North Island to 800m. "There may also be a few sprinkles of snow on the Desert Road," Walsh said.

The southerly blast this morning brought snow to near sea level in the deep south overnight, with a white-out in Dunedin, and flurries in Queenstown.

Flights have been cancelled, and roads and schools closed as heavy snow hits Dunedin, Queenstown and Southland.

Four arrivals were cancelled and two were diverted from tourist hotspot, according to the airport's website, with the corresponding departure flights also cancelled.

There was snow on the Crown Range between Queenstown and Wanaka and motorists were advised to carry chains.

Most Dunedin schools were closed today, and bus services in the city had been stopped due to road conditions. 


Heavy snow has come at a bad time for most dairy farmers well into calving in Southland and Otago.

The only silver lining is that lambing has yet to start in the hill country, farmers say

"There are a lot of people in Otago and Southland that are in the thick of calving, which will prove challenging with temperatures dropping to zero degrees," Federated Farmers Southland president Russell MacPherson said today.

Snow was blanketing pastures, but the real test would come from the wind chill.

"The bitter chill cuts through you and newborn calves won't be able to cope for long in these conditions," he said.

"Farmers know what they are doing and they will be busy feeding out to stock and pushing them to shelter to get them through. Whilst the wind chill has died down . . . the main focus will be rushing the new born calves to the calving shed to keep them warm.

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MacPherson said sheep farmers would be reasonably thankful that they were not lambing yet and still on winter feed rotations.


No Dunedin bus services were currently running, Otago Regional Council said. Otago Polytechnic had closed its Dunedin campus for teaching today due to snow.

- Stuff


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