Snow and rain mark end of long weekend

Snow in the South Island mountain passes and a burst of rain from the middle of the day for some central parts of country look to be the biggest weather problems for people heading home at the end of the long weekend.

On Porters Pass rain had turned to snow above 200 metres, and a further 10cm to 15cm could settle on the top of the pass with lesser amounts to lower levels, MetService said in a severe weather warning at 8.30am.

At that time snow was easing over Arthurs Pass, although a few more centimetres were possible this morning on top of the pass. On the Lewis Pass rain was expected to turn to snow above 700m, with 3cm to 5cm possibly settling on the top of the pass by 1pm, and snow showers could continue into the evening on the pass.

Heavy snow falls were forecast about the Mackenzie country, before gradually clearing from inland. In south Otago snow was forecast to 300m.

Around 7am a "pretty solid block" of rain had been covering Canterbury, encroaching into the Canterbury high country, MetService forecaster Ian Gall said. 

"Quite a reasonable amount of rain, and presumably some snow is coming in through Canterbury at the moment," he said at the time.

The Nelson lakes area and the North Canterbury ranges would also be affected, but the bad weather should ease through the day and be down to almost nothing by the evening.

A cold blast was due for Wellington, Wairarapa and Marlborough starting around late morning.

"Somewhere around the middle of the day we're expecting it to turn cold southerly. By the end of the day that should be easing quite well, too," Gall said.

For much of the country yesterday had probably been the worst day, with today the "improving day" as the winds moved to the southwest.

The Press