Heavy snow, rain picked for south

As heavy rain and snow hit the South Island today, forecasters say parts of the country should also brace for unsettled weather later this week.

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MetService today issued a severe weather warning for Westland, Buller, the western ranges of Nelson, and eastern Bay of Plenty as heavy rain was expected to fall through to early Wednesday.

People were advised that rivers and streams may rise rapidly, possibly causing surface flooding and slips.

Up to 150mm of rain is forecast for around the ranges, while Buller and Westland can expect to receive 80mm of rain and the Bay of Plenty 90mm.

In Canterbury, snow was expected to fall down to 400 metres today with about 10 to 20cm snowfalls possible above 700m, and five to 10cm possible down to 400m.

The snow could be expected to hit the foothills of the high country and possibly Banks Peninsula, and could cause problems for farmers being lambing season.

It was already making travelling difficult, with chains essential for all vehicles travelling on State Highway 73 from Springfield to Arthur's Pass. The road is closed to all towing vehicles.

There is also the possibility of severe gale gusts about southern Taranaki, inland Wanganui and Taihape.

Meanwhile, MetService chief forecaster Peter Kreft said it was too soon to say whether a weather bomb would hit the country in the coming days, but there was a "significant trough" crossing the country.

"This event is likely to be the subject of severe weather watches and warnings later this week," he said.

"Through to at least the end of Tuesday, and possibly into Wednesday, rain or showers are expected in many parts of the South Island and over the southwest of the North Island because a low is taking its time to pass from the Tasman Sea across the South Island."

Apart from today, about half the country - the north of the North Island and in eastern places from Gisborne to Marlborough - should have a mostly settled week.

Although still "early days," the weather for the weekend was likely to be fairly unsettled, he said.