South's big chill causes chaos

17:00, Jul 03 2012
Waka Miller
WATER DAMAGE: Firefighters Waka Miller, left, and Riki Kramers help mop up Jade Wybrow's home after pipes burst yesterday.

Burst pipes, icy roads, and parking meters losing their heads – freezing temperatures caused more chaos in the south yesterday.

The Invercargill Fire Service had to call in extra staff to deal with more than 10 frost-related callouts during the day.

Assistant area manager Julian Tohiariki said as multiple calls came in they called in the make-up crew to respond to incidents.

"During big days and weather events it is common to have most of our station staff here."

Senior station officer Alan Goldsworthy said there had been a lot of frost-related calls, pipes bursting and sprinklers activating in houses and commercial properties as things thawed out.

The Fire Service also attended several car crashes related to the weather.


Low temperatures made roads a hazard to drive on, and police responded to five weather-related car crashes in the space of a few hours yesterday morning.

Strategic Traffic Unit head Sergeant John Pine, of Invercargill, said the first call was at 7.37am to a car on its roof on the Lorneville-Dacre Rd.

The car appeared to have slipped on ice, he said. No-one was injured.

Another vehicle rolled at 8.40am on McIvor Rd; a car went into a ditch on the Waipahi Highway, Pukerau, about 10.15am; and a car slipped on black ice on Old Coach Rd between Mataura and Clinton about 11.15am. No injuries were reported.

At 11am emergency services were called to a truck and trailer which had rolled down a bank on the Lumsden-Dipton Highway near Josephville.

A spokeswoman for St John Ambulance said someone was taken to Southland Hospital with minor injuries.

Mr Pine said drivers needed to take extreme care in shady patches as there was black ice on the road throughout the day and night. The following distance should be increased from the two second rule, to four seconds, and drivers needed to make sure the windscreen was clear.

Two Dunedin students were lucky to escape alive after crashing on the Milford Road yesterday afternoon, Te Anau police said.

Acting Sergeant Glenn Matheson said the pair's Honda Civic slid on a corner in icy conditions near Plato Creek, veering into the opposite lane.

The driver overcorrected and the car ran off the road, down a 35m bank, into dense forest.

If a passing driver had not seen the accident, it was likely the pair would not have been found for some time, he said.

They suffered moderate injuries. "They were lucky not to get serious injuries but also lucky to be found," Mr Matheson said.

Meanwhile, Gore's parking warden was met with topless meters yesterday after days of sub-zero temperatures took their toll.

Ten parking meters lost their heads after water in the pipes froze and pushed the cast iron tops, which weighed about 20kg, off their stands.

Gore District Council senior regulatory officer Frances Cowan said it would have taken considerable pressure to move the heads.

They were not damaged and it was hoped they would be back in place, and operational, by today.

Residents should brace themselves for more, with a change in weather not expected until tomorrow.

MetService meteorologist Daniel Corbett said the spell of clear, bright, cold weather would last until a southerly change tomorrow could bring more moisture and slightly higher temperatures.

The temperature in Invercargill fell to -5.4 degrees Celsius overnight on Monday, Mr Corbett said. In Queenstown the mercury fell to -7C, in Gore -3.4C and in Waipahi, Clutha District, it was -5.4C.

Mr Corbett said the North Island was experiencing stormy, wet weather but the South was covered by the tail end of an area of high pressure.

"It has drifted away from New Zealand but a foot is across the lower South Island ... There is nothing to really clear it away."

The hard frosts would continue, particularly in inland valleys and sheltered areas, he said.

It was not a record cold snap, he said, but it was certainly chilly.

Invercargill reached -9C on July 4, 1996, while the coldest temperature in Southland was recorded in Waikaia in July 1946, when the thermometer fell to -18C.

The Southland Times