Severe weather watch lifted for SI

ASHLEIGH STEWART AND MJ KANG
Last updated 13:34 03/07/2014
oxford snow
KATIE BERRY Zoom
Snow lies on the ground in Oxford, North Canterbury.

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Motorists should take "extreme care" after a cold snap made South Island roads treacherous.

Areas of inland and North Canterbury were the worst hit by yesterday's southerly, which left a blanket of white over the plains.

However it might be safe to venture outside this afternoon as the final snow and hail showers clear to lead into a fine start to the weekend.

A severe weather watch has been lifted for heavy snow accumulating above 400 metres over southern Fiordland, Southland, Otago and Banks Peninsula, MetService said.

The south's skifields celebrated the dusting after a bad start to the season.

The NZ Transport Agency advised motorists to be wary of icy roads today. Journey manager Lee Wright said snow had fallen on State Highway 73 from Springfield to Otira and throughout parts of North Canterbury.

Snow also fell on State Highway 7 through the Lewis Pass.

Chains were essential and motorists were advised to take "extreme care" in the coming days.

The wintry blast was more severe further south, with road closures and schools shut for the day in Otago, Southland and Fiordland.

MetService meteorologist John Law said Canterbury could expect clear skies from today, but people should wrap up for some bitterly cold nights. "As we head through the next couple of days, we're going to find ourselves stuck in that southwesterly feed of air.

"So for the likes of Canterbury it's actually not looking too wet, which is good news.

"It means there's not much more snow to come, but we are still going to find it very cold," Law said. Temperatures were expected to drop to minus 3 degrees last night and would drop to -1 degree tonight.

Mt Hutt operations general manager James Urquhart said the skifield had about 19 centimetres of snowfall yesterday.

"I'm stoked. The mountain's just reformed and reshaped.

It's a get-out-of-jail free card."

Porters marketing manager Guy Nurse said the ski area received 10cm of snow by early yesterday, and it had continued to fall all day.

However, the field's opening day was still unknown - as it would depend on how well the latest snowfall had covered the mountain.

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- The Press

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