Stadium Southland lies in ruins with no hope of reopening after one of the biggest snowfalls in years brought havoc to coastal Southland at the weekend.
Demolition crews will move in this morning to clear the remains of the $10 million stadium after what may have been the heaviest snowfall in 50 years caused its roof to collapse on Saturday morning.
About 30 people inside the stadium escaped without injury.
It was one of several large buildings in Invercargill to collapse under the weight of snow, including Wrens decorating store in Yarrow St, which was extensively damaged yesterday morning.
Roads became skating rinks as drivers struggled in the treacherous conditions. Police reported eight trucks and at least 12 cars had come off the roads throughout Southland at the weekend and an ambulance had been involved in a low-speed head-on crash on State Highway 99.
MetService weather ambassador Bob McDavitt said the snowy weather was caused by sunshine hitting Antarctica after six months of darkness and a buildup of cold air.
More showers were expected today and snow again tomorrow, while it was expected to be warm with the skies clearing from Thursday, he said.
Firefighters used a snorkel appliance to check the roofs of many retail outlets in central Invercargill yesterday and ordered the closure of the Farmers building because of concerns about the stability of its roof.
By 1pm, about eight premises had been checked, with firefighters recommending all should close. The Warehouse, Plaza Supervalue, Briscoes, Mitre 10 Mega and Spotlight were among the stores that shut.
Schools will open today at the discretion of their board of trustees and principals, and they have been urged to err on the side of caution.
Waverley Park School principal Kerry Hawkins said the decision on whether his school would open would be made this morning.
"There has been mini avalanching coming off the roof and if that hit a 5-year-old it wouldn't be flash – (but) we will be OK if there is no snow over night," he said.
Farmers will have to wait until the snow clears before working out lamb losses, with the snow arriving in the middle of lambing. Fonterra was also unable to collect milk from more than 400 dairy farmers because of the dangerous roads and is asking some to dump milk.
An Air New Zealand spokeswoman said Invercargill airport was operating yesterday after closing all day Saturday.
Snow and ice affected numerous roads across Southland, with the back road between Mataura and Clinton, State Highway 93, closed, as was State Highway 94 from Te Anau to Milford Sound and the Southern Scenic Route between Owaka and Niagara.
Many motorists ignored police warnings not to venture out yesterday, with only the closure of many retail outlets discouraging some of them and sending them for the warmth of their lounges.
Near Queens Park, a tree branch snapped from the weight of snow and crushed a parked car, while numerous minor injury crashes were reported.
Emergency Management Southland controller Neil Cruickshank said staff were continuing to monitor the conditions, with more unsettled weather expected overnight.
- The Southland Times
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