Cold start as temperatures plunge

WINTER IS COMING: A fresh blanket of snow caps a mountain range visible from central Nelson on Monday morning.
WINTER IS COMING: A fresh blanket of snow caps a mountain range visible from central Nelson on Monday morning.

Nelson woke to a bitterly cold morning as the first frost of the year took hold across the region.

The coldest night of 2014 so far saw temperatures drop as low as -1, with icy patches forming on sections of road and drivers scraping windscreens before setting out.

The cold snap looks likely to be short-lived as things warm up today, with MetService predicting a sunny day and high of 11 degrees and no further frosts forecast for the week ahead.

On Wednesday there will be northwesterly winds while Thursday was forecast to be warmer, with a high of 17. A southerly is then due to come through.

MetService forecaster Peter Little said things were "looking good" for the Queen's Birthday long weekend with sunny days but cold temperatures.

It was almost a case of four seasons in one weekend as the region experienced heavy rain, sunshine and snow.

Downpours on Friday night and Saturday created plenty of mud for weekend sports events.

Nelson Mountain Bike Club Winter Downhill series co-organiser Olivia Johnston said rain on Friday night meant track conditions were "a bit wild" for some of the races on the weekend.

There was plenty of mud, and cold temperatures volunteers had to shiver through, she said.

Ideal downhill mountainbiking conditions would be "bone-dry" ground, but this was unlikely over the winter period.

There was 5cm of snow on the ground this morning at St Arnaud, with cold temperatures, Department of Conservation ranger Gabriella Czoma said.

It was "very early" in the year for snow in the region, she said, though she expected it to melt today.

The weekend saw bitterly cold temperatures, destructive winds and heavy snow hit the country.

In the Wellington region, powerlines were downed and roofing iron lifted as gusts hit 148kmh.

There were 2200 homes without power in the Wairarapa and Tararua districts this morning.

Dunedin City Council reported several bus services had been suspended in the city, including all hill routes and school runs.

In Central Otago, the Queenstown Lakes District Council said snow falls had been widespread.

Contractors were working to clear main roads but chains were essential in most places.

Snow had closed several main routes in the South Island this morning including State Highway 1 between Dunedin to Waitati.

The Nelson Mail