Weather warming for the weekend

NICOLE PRYOR
Last updated 17:16 03/01/2013

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After days of wind and rain, weekend weather is set to be warm across the country.

MetService said the stormy weather has settled, and now the country is under a ridge of high pressure.

"The weekend is likely to be warm just about everywhere," said MetService chief forecaster Peter Kreft.

"However, in the east of both islands hot might be a better word, with afternoon temperatures expected to be around the 30 degree mark - and possibly higher - on Saturday and in some places again on Sunday."

He said next week, daytime temperatures in eastern places could hit the high 20s.

Wild weather has disrupted holidaymakers this week, seeing people stranded and key services knocked out.

The West Coast and Fiordland took the brunt of the storm, and in Central Otago this morning, people trapped by heavy snowfall were rescued from Lindis Pass.

Several cars had to be abandoned in the area and a police communications spokesman said the snow meant it was slow going on State Highway 8.

Snow had fallen to relatively low levels in parts of South Canterbury and Central Otago.

MetService chief forecaster Peter Kreft said snow was unusual for this time of year, but it had not been unexpected as a southwest change followed the front that had brought heavy rain to parts of the South Island.

It had been a classic northwesterly cloud band-type storm, Kreft said.

Rising river levels meanwhile claimed the Wanganui River bridge near Harihari yesterday, with flooding washing out one end of the bridge and forcing the closure of State Highway 6, the main road along the West Coast.

The washout severed a key fibre-optic cable, cutting most methods of communication between about 1000 Westland homes and the rest of the country.

Motorists heading north were forced take lengthy detours - of up to 400 kilometres to reach Christchurch via Wanaka.

The washed-out bridge, which linked the West Coast main highway to the Haast Pass, will be out of action for at least two days.

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