Gales, rain as cold snap hits

02:34, Mar 03 2014

A wintry blast is smacking in from the south with cold temperatures, showers, hail and gales forecast for much of the country.

The South Island had a "chilly start" this morning, waking to snow on the mountains and temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius, MetService duty forecaster Liz Walsh said.

A cold southwest change was set to move up the country today which would bring "a lot of showers".

MetService has issued a severe weather warning for parts of the South Island's east coast as southwest gales were expected to hit later today and into the night.

"There's going to be some very cold gale southerlies with gusts of up to 140kmh in exposed places," Walsh said.

Gales were likely to become severe about the Otago coast by midnight, and would spread north to parts of Christchurch city, Banks Peninsula and the Kaikoura Coast tomorrow morning.

Gusts of 120kmh were forecast for these areas, reaching 140kmh over higher parts of Banks Peninsula.

Northern parts of the country, including Auckland, would escape the wintry weather, with a few showers expected but mainly fine weather with temperatures around 20C.

But there was light at the end of the tunnel for everyone else, as a high was expected to spread from the Tasman on Wednesday, Walsh said.

NIWA today released its outlook for autumn. For the central North Island, Taranaki, Whanganui, Manawatu, and Wellington, temperatures were forecast to most likely be near average, and rainfall was likely to be in the normal or below normal range.

In Gisborne, Hawke's Bay, and Wairarapa, temperatures and rainfall were expected to be near average.