Polar blast hits the south

04:23, Sep 11 2012
Frankton
Frankton at 10.40am.
Stroll in the snow
Jeremy Railton of Mt Rosa wines takes a quick stroll in thickening snow
Cold lambs
Cold lambs try to keep warm during heavy snow near Mossburn.
Five Rivers
Heavy snow falls at Five Rivers stopping traffic as the Jollies pass is closed.
Grit spreader
A grit spreading truck jumps the long queue of gridlocked traffic stalled by thickening snow on the main entrance to Queenstown.
Snow
Constable Dwight Grieve discusses road conditions with Downers staff on State Highway 94 on the western side of Gorge Hill.
Van chaos
An abandoned backpacker van collects snow while backed up traffic crawls into Queenstown behind it.

Roads around the south have been closed as snow, wind, hail and rain buffets the region.

Senior sergeant Dave Raynes, of Invercargill, said police were busy out checking the conditions of roads around the region.

There was about six inches of snow in the Athol area and Milford and Te Anau were also affected, he said.

State Highway 6, from Athol to Lumsden and State Highway 94, Te Anau to Milford Sound, are both closed.

State Highway 73 from Arthurs Pass to Otira and State Highway 94 Mossburn to Te Anau are also closed to towing vehicles.Caution is also advised on State Highway 1 Balclutha to Gore and State Highway 93 Clinton to Mataura.

Overnight, wind, rain, hail and even snow hit the region and wind gusts topping 100 kmh caused havoc for emergency services and power companies last night.

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Police in Balclutha reported no serious weather-related issues, except for a couple of trampolines blowing around in the blustery weather, while in Te Anau police also reported a problem-free morning, despite snowfall in the area.

Sergeant Tod Hollebon, of Te Anau, said snow fell overnight.

‘‘There’s a fair amount of it around but we haven’t had any major problems so far, touch wood,’’ he said.

In Invercargill, the fire station reported a few minor call-outs to trampolines, fences and television aerials blowing about in the wind, but said they had not attended any major incidents so far.

On the Southland Times Facebook page, readers reported plenty of bangs and crashes and some even experienced power outages.

Lorna Sekone-Fraser said a tree had fallen over onto her calf shed, but all the calves were okay, while Lyn McLaren Robson said wind had died down but there was snow on the ground at Balfour.

Western Southland dairy farmer Philip van der Bijl said there was 100mm of snow and hail had settled since it started snowing at 4am this morning.

‘‘It’s totally grey, I can’t see anything.’’

He has 130 calves sheltered outside and 600 inside his wintering barn near Mossburn.

The calves would be fine but lambs’ survival in the district was a concern, he said.

However, for Geraldine Brenssell the weather in her patch was not too bad.

‘‘Mossburn must be the place to be, [it’s] calm but cold out, toasty in the house, keep safe guys,’’ she wrote.

The bitter weather also forced the closure of the scheduled DairyNZ Central Pasture Plus Discussion Group  at Heddon Bush.

The event is now postponed to September 18.

There were reported power cuts in Winton, Otatara and areas of Invercargill last night.

A fire service spokesman said power lines were reported down in Colac Bay and the Wyndham fire brigade were called to power lines arcing on a shed.

The Invercargill fire service attended at least 12 weather-related call-outs.

Most were minor with roofs lifting and trees blowing onto property while firefighters were called to secure a second runaway trampoline during the strong winds, the spokesman said. 

Sergeant Ian Martin, of Invercargill, said last night there had been a few wind-related incidents including a damaged set of traffic lights, but nothing major.

The Southland Times