Snow hits the North Island
MICHAEL DALY, STACEY KIRK, TOM HUNT AND CAROLINE KING
Both the Desert Road and the Rimutaka Hill Road have re-opened as conditions ease in the North Island, while sleety showers remain in the south.
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The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) said the Desert Road reopened shortly after 10am, with the Rimutaka route opened about an hour later.
NZTA central region operations manager Mark Owen said continuing snow flurries had kept the Rimutaka road closed until late in the morning.
Snow had fallen to about three-quarters of the way down the hill on the Wellington side, and to Featherston on the Wairarapa side.
While the snowfall was extensive it had not been overly heavy, reaching about 10cm at the deepest point.
Snow flurries were expected to keep falling on the Rimutakas until mid-afternoon and workers would remain in the area.
The flurries were expected to ease as the day went on, but if there was another heavier fall it could be necessary to get sweepers or graders out on the road again, Owen said.
Despite the overnight road closures, the lower North Island was spared the full brunt of the cold weather, with MetService forecaster Stephen Glassey saying strong southerly winds had mixed warmer air into the system, raising the temperature by around three degrees.
MetService said a cold and showery southwest flow was expected to ease across New Zealand today, as a ridge of high pressure came in from the Tasman Sea.
In the North Island, snow had been expected to fall above 300 metres in Dannevirke, with possible thunderstorms throughout the rest of Hawke's Bay and Wairarapa.
REPRIEVE FOR SOUTH
Canterbury's cold weather was expected to clear this afternoon, after several centimetres of snow fell overnight.
MetService meteorologist Daniel Corbett said sleety rain was expected to continue in Canterbury for another three hours.
The tops of Banks Peninsula could also get more snow, Corbett said.
"We've had some good wintery showers over night ... the radar shows a good little string of them running back down to the south, south west.
"We're still going to see a few of these coming in but they will slowly die out. It's getting better," he said.
Corbett said the temperature in Christchurch would reach up to 10 degrees today and would plummet into the negatives overnight.
"Tomorrow it just gets better. Temperatures are looking at getting back to normal. There'll be a cold, frosty start, then a pleasant high of 14 to 15 degrees. Light winds and a sunny day."
The weather continues to improve for Friday, with a high of 17 degrees predicted.
More rain was forecast on Sunday, with temperatures to reach 12 to 15 degrees, Corbett said.
"It's spring, it's that roller coaster ride," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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