The home of Southland sport has been severely damaged after the roof collapsed on Saturday under the weight of the largest amount of snow seen in Invercargill for several years.
Cranes and diggers have been brought in to clear debris so the situation can be assessed, but millions of dollars of damage has been caused to the 2000-seat Stadium Southland. Most of the roof over the indoor courts has collapsed, with stadium users forced to flee the falling material.
It is understood the indoor cycling velodrome has not been affected but it has been evacuated and police have been turning away people wanting to see the wreckage.
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Manager Nigel Skelt said the damage was ''very severe'', with the repair cost likely to be in the millions.
Snow has also forced the closure of the New World supermarket in Windsor, with scaffolding installed to hold the roof up. Other shops in central Invercargill closed and sent staff home because of the poor conditions.
Emergency Management Southland staff are monitoring the situation, but most of the snow has hit coastal southern Southland, avoiding inland areas. They have warned industrial and commerical property owners to check the structural integrity of their roofs and if anyone has concerns to contact their local council.
MetService duty forecaster Heath Gullery said Southlanders could expect further snow showers throughout Saturday, overnight and into Sunday but it should turn to rain on Sunday afternoon as the snow levels lifted. There should not be the volume of snow the province received earlier on Saturday, he said.
More than 10cm of snow fell in Invercargill and also on low lying areas near Tapanui, with more than 20cm falling in hillier parts creating havoc for farmers trying to keep lambs alive.
Police have attended numerous accidents, although most have involved minor injuries, and Gorge Rd to Owaka and Chaslands Highway from Owaka to Niagara have been closed. State Highway 1 near Woodlands, between Invercargill and Edendale, has reopened after being closed earlier in the day.
Senior sergeant Maggie Windle urged motorists to avoid all but essential travel, with more snow forecast. People needed to be considerate of other drivers, she said.
Fonterra have advised farmers that trucks are unable to return to its Edendale factory and to hold as little milk as possible.
Flights in and out of Invercargill airport have been cancelled.
In Queenstown, snow fields have received significant snowfalls but snow has not settled in the town.
- The Southland Times
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