Heavy snow warning for Canty
BY SHAHRA WALSH AND MARC GREENHILL WITH NZPA
LATEST: Snow is now falling to about 300 metres in places over the upper South Island.
The Met Service has issued a heavy snowfall warning for Canterbury, Marlborough, Nelson, Buller, and North Otago.
Ten to 15cm is possible down to near 400m, with lesser amounts to 300m, Met Service says.
Snow is expected on both Banks Peninsula and the Port Hills, along with gale southerly winds off the coast.
Heavy snow is now forecast for inland parts of Canterbury and north Otago overnight tonight, and Friday morning.
Snow showers are expected to around 300m over eastern parts of the South Island today in a strong cold southerly flow.
The Met Service is warning many high level roads are likely to be affected by snow, especially the Main Alpine Passes, such as Porters Pass, where chains are now essential and towing vehicles banned.
Inland roads around Buller, Nelson and Marlborough are also likely to be hazardous.
"The combination of cold temperatures, snow and strong winds are likely to produce sub zero wind chills in exposed places,'' a spokesman said.
"These conditions are likely to be stressful for stock and farmers may wish to move them to sheltered locations."
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There was hail and sleet showers in Christchurch this morning, and the temperature has plunged from around nine degrees earlier today to just four.
Porters Pass has been closed to towing vehicles and chains are essential for other motorists.
Earlier today, army unimogs delivered bread, milk, soup and water to flood affected residents around Oamaru as waters recede and snow starts falling in the South Island.
Nine tourists were stranded by floodwaters on State Highway 1 north of Oamaru, after failing to observe warning signs.
The young tourists, who were trying to free one of their two SUVs from waist-deep water, were found by army and Civil Defence personnel, a Waitaki District Council spokeswoman said.
They were taken to Oamaru, where they were checked for hypothermia and would stay tonight before returning to Christchurch.
Forty-nine roads in the Waitaki region remained closed tonight, ahead of forecast heavy snowfalls tomorrow to 600m, and lighter snow expected at lower levels. Showers were also forecast.
Motorists were advised to avoid travel if possible.
After flooding made SH1 impassable around the North Otago town, it is now open to the south of Oamaru but closed to the north between Pukeuri and Hilderthorpe.
Some water supplies in North Otago have been shut down due to flooded intakes, and will be inspected again tomorrow before a decision is made about when they will begin to operate again.
Local schools were expected to open tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Otago river levels were dropping and the flood risk had eased.
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- © Fairfax NZ News
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