Region blown away by wintry blast that's set on hanging around
The weather bomb that battered the region at the weekend is not moving on in a hurry.
A "bitterly cold" front swept across the region causing mayhem in Bluff and the cancellation of the Bluff Oyster and Food Festival, dumping snow in Invercargill, and bringing down trees near Gore.
But residents hoping for a reprieve today are out of luck, with the chilly weather expected to continue until Wednesday, when Southland can look forward to higher temperatures but more rain.
MetService meteorologist Elke Louw said the weather tomorrow would be an improvement on the bitterly cold weather she expected the region to feel today, but Southland would not be avoiding wintry weather any time soon. "Winter is knocking on our door."
Southerly, gusty winds would lash the region today, backed by "polar air", making it feel even colder, she said.
Gusts up to 120kmh were recorded near Invercargill Airport as Saturday's storm lashed the region. The high winds returned yesterday afternoon, and snow was expected to near sea level last night.
Southlanders were teased with sunlight on Saturday morning, before the skies quickly darkened and the wild storm ripped through Bluff and Invercargill.
Senior station officer Daniel Middlemiss said the Invercargill fire brigade was called out more than a dozen times at the weekend, compared to the usual "three or four" callouts. "This has been an unusual weekend; we have been busy due to the weather."
Middlemiss said the Bluff brigade frantically tried to attend about five callouts on Saturday afternoon, including a crash at Greenpoint.
The brigade also dealt with powerlines falling onto a house in Barrow St in Bluff, while bricks tumbled from the facade on the former Work and Income building in Tay St, Invercargill, on Saturday afternoon.
Senior Sergeant Dave Scott, of the police district command centre, said the collapse was believed to be weather-related.
No-one was hurt, he said.
Acting Senior Sergeant Wing-wah Ng, of Invercargill, said police dealt with several weather-related callouts, including surface flooding issues.
Further up the country, tourists were turned back from Milford Sound after the road was shut by the NZ Transport Agency.
State Highway 6 between Haast and Makarora and State Highway 8 at the Lindis Pass road were also closed yesterday because of rockfalls and snow, while State Highway 93 between Mataura and Clinton was also closed. The Haast to Makarora road would be closed until at least 10am today.
The Southland Times