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As New Zealand braces itself for a fierce and freezing southerly storm, Civil Defence says Kiwis need to stock up on emergency supplies, winter woollies, check their heating and prepare to stay indoors.
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MetService is predicting a southerly change tomorrow, which will gradually bring snow down to sea level in Southland and South Otago, and snow down to 200 metres in the remainder of Otago and Canterbury.
On Thursday there is a severe weather watch for heavy snow in Southland and Eastern parts of Otago, central and northern Canterbury and southern Marlborough.
By the end of the week even Aucklanders will be shivering as temperatures struggle to reach 10degC.
Snowstorms raise concerns people could be trapped in their homes without heat, power, and phone services, and if snow set in for more than a day they could run out of supplies.
Civil Defence today issued a list of things people could do to minimise risk to themselves and their families, when the big chill hit.
The included avoiding leaving home unless absolutely necessary when a snow warning is out, and if travel was essential, ensuring you had snow chains, sleeping bags, warm clothing and essential emergency items.
Civil Defence advised that if people were caught in their car or truck in a snowstorm, they should stay in the vehicle, run the engine every 10 minutes to keep warm, open the window a little to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, and ensure they were visible to rescuers by tying a bright-coloured cloth to the car's radio aerial and keeping the inside light on.
It would be wise for households to have an emergency plan before the storm hit, Civil Defence said.
When a storm struck, people should listen for updates on local radio stations where authorities would be broadcasting advice, it said.
'ANTARCTIC FLOODGATES OPENING'
Today would offer a brief respite from heavy rains before an Antarctic blast moved in, MetService said.
The heavy rain that passed across Canterbury and Otago yesterday, forcing the closure of roads and schools, would ease away.
Some showers would still feed into the West Coast of the South Island, and there would be patches of rain for south Canterbury.
"It's kind of the in-between day," said meteorologist Daniel Corbett.
"It all starts to change tomorrow - winter returns with some really angry bark and bite."
By the end of today a southerly change would come across the south of the South Island.
The flood gates from the Antarctic were opening, he said.
"The southerly change works its way through the north on Wednesday, comes through Wellington like a freight train with no driver, and it just keeps going north all the way through to the far north of the North Island," Corbett said.
"By Friday the temperature in Auckland will struggle to get to 10 degrees."
Significant snow was expected to come with the low, though pinning down exactly where depended on where the low set up, Corbett said.
"One area to flag up right now is probably mid-Canterbury up to Marlborough.
"Farmers and travelers need to be aware though on Thursday and Friday."
Weekend weather was set to be better, with the strong southerlies bringing rain easing away on Friday.
"By Saturday, the pressure starts to rise from the west, the southerly starts to ease, and it dries out, with some overnight frosts down south but improving for the weekend," Corbett said.
Several South Island roads remained underwater today.
The New Zealand Transport Agency closed part of State Highway 1 from Oamaru due to flooding, and put cautions on SH 82 and 83 in the surrounding area.
SH 90 near Gore has also been closed.
East Otago Health in Palmerston, 55km north of Dunedin, is operating without any doctors today as flooding has left the town stranded.
State Highway 1, both north and south of the small township - home to about 900 people - has been closed after heavy rain since Saturday afternoon.
Neither of its two GPs, Campbell Murdoch and Jeremy Hay, can get to Palmerston.
Murdoch lives in Dunedin and Hay in Karitane and flooding across State Highway 1 is preventing any travel north of Karitane.