Wind warning as snow strikes the country

Last updated 10:02 26/06/2012
BIG CHILL: Snow covers most of Cecil Peak, opposite Queenstown.

BIG CHILL: Snow covers most of Cecil Peak, opposite Queenstown.

CHILLY: Snow and frost cover the Skyline gondola track in Queenstown.
CHILLY: Snow and frost cover the Skyline gondola track in Queenstown.

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While winds batter parts of the country, heavy snow has closed roads in the South Island.

MetService yesterday issued a severe weather warning for the lower North Island and lower South Island as gales and snow were expected.

In the deep south, SH 94 from Te Anau to Milford Sound was closed due to the snow, while Porters Pass, SH 80 from Pukaki to Mt Cook, and SH 8 from Fairlie to Twizel were closed to towing vehicles.

There were reports trucks had been stuck in snow on State Highway 6 near Glenhope, 83km south of Nelson, early this morning, police said.

A Transport Authority spokesman said the snow has since been cleared and the highway was open.

Snow was lowering to near sea level in Fiordland and Southland and to about 200m in Buller and Westland.

Up to 45cm of snow could accumulate above 400 metres from Buller to Fiordland, while up to 20cm could accumulate at about 200m.

The level of snow could be disruptive and could damage trees, powerlines and weak structures, MetService said.

Snow ploughs and gritting trucks were a common site around Queenstown this morning, along with skiers and boarders flocking to the mountains to ride fresh powder after heavy overnight snow.

Snow was almost at lake level in central Queenstown and on the ground in Arrowtown.

The dumping closed the Crown Range road until 7.30am. With the Milford road closed indefinitely schools in the area have delayed opening until 10am.

Temperatures were as low as -7.5 degrees on the Remarkables skifield, which has received a 20cm dump, increasing its snow base to 50cm.

Meanwhile Coronet Peak and Cardrona have received 30 cm and 25cm of overnight snow respectively.

HIGH WINDS

Gusts of up to 150kmh were expected around Stewart Island today, and 120kmh gusts were forecast to spread over Wellington and the Wairarapa.

MetService warned that winds of that strength had the potential to damage trees, powerlines, unsecured structures and make driving hazardous.

In Stewart Island, roofs could be lifted. People were advised to be cautious and to stay up to date with the latest forecasts and warnings.

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- Stuff

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