First snow of the year arrives

06:45, May 27 2013
GREAT FUN: Two-year-old Maia Wakefield, of Castle Hill Village, enjoys the first snow of the season with her mum Sonia.

Snow has disrupted traffic in the South Island today as Christchurch braces for hail and sleety showers.

Ten truck and trailer units were delayed in the Craigieburn Cutting area near Arthur's Pass after 10 to 15 centimetres of snow fell overnight between Castle Hill and Lake Pearson.

Transport Agency spokesman Barry Stratton said contractors were on site at 6am to clear the snow and grit the road so the trucks could carry on along State Highway 73.

However, the gritted snow turned to ice at daybreak so further work was needed to clear the road.

"SH73 is open to light traffic in both directions, however some short delays maybe experienced as work continues on the road to ensure heavy vehicles can safely travel up the cutting."

Metservice issued snowfall warnings for a number of areas today.


Snow showers are expected to bring between 3 and 6cm of snow to Lewis Pass this afternoon, while Arthur's Pass can expect between 2 and 4cm.

Lindis Pass can expect occasional snow showers and between 4 and 8cm of snow.

A previous snowfall warning for Porter's Pass has been cancelled.

Metservice duty forecaster Elke Louw said the lingering warmth from the weekend would soon disappear in Christchurch.

Cantabrians enjoyed a balmy weekend, with 20 degrees Celsius recorded yesterday.

But Louw said this evening would bring showers, hail and a cold southwesterly - and possibly even snow. A high of 12C is expected.

Tomorrow, temperatures are expected to reach just 7C with sleety showers and cold southwesterlies.

High winds affected motorists on SH1 this morning between Blenheim and Kaikoura, with people towing caravans, riding motorcycles and driving high-sided vehicles urged to take extra care.

Snow is expected to fall to 300 metres on Banks Peninsula after 6pm today and will get heavier tomorrow.

Heavy snow is expected today around Lake Tekapo and the headwaters of the Rakaia River where 30cm may fall above 1000m with lesser amounts down to about 500m.

The Press