Wild weather hits Canterbury
ANNA TURNER, CAROLINE KING AND STACEY KIRK
Wet and wild weather is beginning to hit Canterbury, with forecasters warning that worse is to come.
MetService forecaster Ian Gall said showers had begun hitting Banks Peninsula and would move towards Christchurch over the next few hours.
"They will be pretty grunty showers and they're starting to push into the Canterbury Plains soon. You can expect to have a showery afternoon,'' he said.
''Temperatures will drop; it will be quite cold. It's all about to start."
There would be a "fair dusting" of snow on the Port Hills and lower hill suburbs, but Christchurch would not be badly affected, Gall said.
"There will be some sleety showers down to low level and possibly some hail showers, but it won't be much of an issue. Even in the hill suburbs it will be more of a dusting than thick snow."
The weather would start to clear overnight, he said.
"It could clear before dawn, but certainly tomorrow we expect it to be cold, frosty and clear," he said.
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In parts of Fiordland, Southland and Otago, snow accumulations of 20 to 30 centimetres were likely above 300 metres today.
It was possible 5cm to 10cm could accumulate down to 200m until 9pm.
Farmers scrambled to get lambs and livestock into shelter after cold southwesterlies hit Fiordland, Southland and Otago last night.
The NZ Transport Agency said State Highway 6 between Athol and Lumsden in Southland was closed by snow, while State Highway 94 between Mossburn and Te Anau was closed to towing vehicles this morning.
"These amounts of snow have the potential to be disruptive by affecting roads and passes, and the weight of accumulated snow could damage trees, powerlines and weak structures," MetService said.
"Also, the combination of the strong winds with the snow or very cold showers will lead to significant wind chill. These conditions could cause distress for livestock without shelter."
Mt Hutt Ski Area manager James McKenzie said the skifield was open after being closed for the past five days by strong winds.
Up to 7cm of snow was expected to fall tonight, and a further 20cm was predicted on Friday night, he said.
Porters Ski Area spokesman Guy Nurse said that after a week-long storm cycle, the skifield had been blanketed with a coating of snow and returned to a "winter wonderland".
"As this weather takes hold today, there will be some amazing skiing and snowboarding to be had, with the cold temperatures keeping the snow in beautiful winter condition,'' he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News