Severe weather prompts warnings

06:22, Sep 24 2009

Heavy rain and snow across central New Zealand caused problems today.

The MetService issued a severe weather warning late this afternoon, saying farmers in the lower North Island and upper South Island should consider moving vulnerable stock to shelter.

People in the central North Island and Bay of Plenty were warned to watch for rising rivers and streams and for possible surface flooding.

In Auckland, police warned motorists to be aware of surface flooding.

The MetService said an active front was crossing the North Island bringing rain to most areas, with snow to low levels in parts of the lower North Island.

The Rimutaka Hill Road on State Highway 2 was closed by snow, and in the north Wairarapa at Mount Bruce driving conditions were marginal because of snow. The Pahiatua Track, the main alternative route between Manawatu and Wairarapa, was also reportedly closed by snow.

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In the Manawatu Gorge area – from Ashhurst to Dannevirke – snow and ice was reported on the roads, with high winds adding to driving hazards.

SH1, north of Bulls in the Manawatu, was being affected by flooding and motorists were urged to exercise caution.

In Nelson, SH60 between Riwaka and Upper Takaka was closed by snow.

Greymouth police said high winds had been gusting in the area.

A spokesman said a roof in the town had been lifting earlier in the day, but had since been repaired.

The MetService said cold strong or gale winds were affecting parts of central New Zealand.

The strongest winds were expected in northern Westland, Buller, Horowhenua and the Kapiti Coast, where gusts of up to 100kph were expected.

Wellington has failed to hit double figure temperatures today, recording its high of 9 degC at Wellington Airport at 9am. It has got progressively cooler during the day and at 2.30pm was only 6.5 degC. At the same time, it was sitting under 6 degC in neighbouring Lower Hutt.

A MetService spokesman said it would be slightly warmer in the Capital during the day tomorrow, but still was not expected to reach double figure temperatures.

In the South Island, it was 8 degC at 2.30pm in Christchurch. By contrast, Aucklanders had a high of 18 degC, recorded at the city's airport.

NZPA