Snow could reach Christchurch
Snow could fall in Christchurch tomorrow, weather experts are warning.
MetService spokesman Daniel Corbett said it was "more than likely" snow would fall in Christchurch.
"There is the potential for 10 to 15 centimetres to fall as low as Christchurch City," he said this afternoon.
"Of course, because Christchurch is close to the coast, the amount that settles does depend on how that marine air mixes in with the snow.
''There is a definite risk snow will fall at low levels. This is going to be a significant event."
Corbett said he could not predict whether the snowfall would be as heavy as last year's fall.
"People should be prepared for the risk of snow and for the fact that they may not be able to travel,'' he said.
''It will be one of those days when they need to plan ahead and keep checking the MetService website to see what is happening with the weather."
The latest weather warning from MetService predicts rain is expected to turn to snow in Canterbury and in Marlborough, south of Seddon, from tonight or overnight.
"In the 27 hours from 9pm Tuesday, 50cm to 100cm of snow may accumulate above 300 metres but 10cm to 40cm south of about Lake Tekapo. Fifteen to 40cm may accumulate between 100m and 300m. Lesser amounts may fall to sea level; this includes Christchurch City," the forecast said.
Another report will be issued about 9pm today.
Airport prepares for snow
A Christchurch International Airport spokeswoman said the airport had been gathering information about the forecast snow.
Flights were grounded when the snowfall hit in August last year.
"We have an established emergency response programme and will enact it if required," she said.
Police warn of dangerous roads
Police are urging motorists to take care on Canterbury roads with snow predicted.
Canterbury road policing manager Inspector Al Stewart said all road users should check road conditions before travelling.
"If conditions appear difficult, drivers should think about looking for alternative transport or consider delaying any non-essential travel where possible,'' he said.
"During last year's snow and ice, most people took these messages on board and adjusted their driving to the conditions or stayed off the roads, which resulted in a lower than average crash rate.
''This was a great result, and we are hoping to see the same responsible driving behaviour this winter."
Those who did drive should drive to the conditions, Stewart said.
"Slow down, extend your following distances and get to where you are going safely."
He said drivers should be wary of ice hazards that could follow the snow.
"Drivers need to be aware that while the snow will be a clearly visible hazard, there may be large areas of ice on the roads later that they will not be able to see, especially in rural and shaded areas," he said.
Prepare for snow, health board warns
The Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) is urging people to plan for heavy snowfall.
On the board's Facebook page it said people should think about car pooling to work and to ensure they have food, any required medications, a tank of fuel and snow chains at home.
Hospital staff are being encouraged to come into work unless they have arranged with their managers to work from home.
It said people should also plan to manage without electricity.
Snowstorm likely to make travel hazardous
MetService has forecast a "significant snow event'' for Canterbury and warns that travel by road is likely to be difficult.
Heavy snowfalls are predicted over North Canterbury and inland Marlborough from tonight, with snow settling as deep as 40 centimetres.
Difficult driving conditions are likely across Canterbury, but specific travel warnings have been issued for Porters Pass, the Lindis Pass, Arthur's Pass and the Milford Road.
Heavy rain is also forecast for Buller and Nelson and for the Westland and Fiordland ranges, with strong, cold winds and significant wind chill likely.
In some parts of the South Island, snow would fall to sea level in places, settling up to over 80cm in places, a MetService spokesman said.
"This is likely to be a highly significant snow event for Canterbury and Marlborough, making travel very difficult and causing stress for livestock," he said.
Transit of Venus will be obscured
A once-in-a-century chance to see Venus pass across the Sun could be ruined by the snowstorm.
The planet will be visible as it passes in front of the Sun from 10.15am to 4.43pm tomorrow. The transit will not happen again until 2117.
The event cannot be viewed with the naked eye but can be seen through special shaded viewers to protect the eyes or through specially adapted telescopes.
The superintendent at the University of Canterbury's Mt John University Observatory at Lake Tekapo, Alan Gilmore, said New Zealand was likely to miss the rare astronomical event.
"The weather forecast for Wednesday is pretty dire for the whole country. The best place to view it could be online," he said.
"I suspect I may be all day on the snow plough [rather] than doing any Venus-watching on Wednesday.
"The weather forecasts have been getting steadily more dire over the last three or four days.
"We may have more on our minds other than the Transit of Venus."
The university is planning events at its Ilam campus to watch the transit if weather permits.
Solar telescopes will be available, with astronomers on hand to advise on safe viewing through solar filters.
The transit will be live-streamed on the university's website and in a lecture theatre from the optical telescope at the Mt John Observatory.
However, some New Zealanders had a perfect view of last night's partial lunar eclipse. According to Wikipedia, the June 4 event is the first of two lunar eclipses to take place this year. The second will be on November 28.
If you have photos of last night's partial eclipse, please send them to email@example.com
- © Fairfax NZ News
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