Cold blast hits south
Winter weather leaves its mark on regionCOLLETTE DEVLIN
MetService has reissued its heavy snow warning for all of Southland and Clutha, where snow showers are expected to continue overnight and throughout tomorrow.
Forecaster Philippa Murdoch said heavy snow has fallen above 200 metres in Fiordland, parts of Southland and Clutha, lowering to near sea level in Fiordland and Southland.
Another 10 to 15cm of snow could fall in the regions, she said.
She urged drivers to be vigilant as heavy snow had the potential to affect roads and passes, while the weight of accumulated snow could damage trees, powerlines and weak structures.
Severe gales were also developing in the southeast of the South Island, she said.
The strong southwest flow was expected to get stronger tomorrow, with severe gale gusts of 120kmh predicted in the Catlins and parts of Clutha.
``Winds of this strength have the potential to topple trees, damage powerlines and insecure structures, which can make driving hazardous,'' she said.
Meanwhile, the NZ Transport Agency is urging drivers in Southland and Otago to take extreme care as winter driving conditions continue in the region.
Its website this evening issued information on road closures and conditions in the region.
State Highway 93 from Clinton to Mataura is closed until further notice and an update was expected at 9am tomorrow.
State Highway 94 from Te Anau to Milford Sound (Knobs Flat to Milford Sound) will also remain closed overnight and a further update is expected at 7am tomorrow.
Vehicle restrictions are also in place on State Highway 94 from Mossburn to Te Anau, which is closed to towing vehicles until further notice and it is recommend that vehicles carry snow chains.
There had been reports of black ice on State Highway 99 from Riverton to Tuatapere, where extreme caution is recommended.
There was snow on the road on State Highway 96 from Winton to Ohai, where extreme care was also recommend.
Senior Sergeant Bruce Terry, of Invercargill, said it was important for drivers throughout the region to stay off the road in extreme conditions.
He advised drivers not to use the roads tonight as conditions deteriorate.
``Wait until the morning to see what conditions are like and if there is snow on the road, stay at home. Wait until roads have been cleared as they are likely to be treacherous,'' he said.
He said several vehicles had slipped off the roads tonight.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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