Sleety spell may top June record

ASHLEIGH STEWART
Last updated 07:15 22/06/2013

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More snow and sleet is on the cards for storm-ravaged Canterbury today, as Christchurch looks to mark its wettest June on record.

Computer models are picking a large area of active shower clouds that may bring further snow to the city until midday. It comes on top of heavy snow in inland areas and wild winds and rain that have closed roads, cut power and communication lines and triggered flash flooding.

After the snow clouds pass, wintry showers are predicted throughout the afternoon.

MetService meteorologist Chris Noble said more snow was expected to fall overnight, but Christchurch could escape without a snowflake.

"The temperature is around the 3-4 degree mark, which is just a little bit too warm for snow showers to form."

However, flurries may "occasionally drop lower onto the Canterbury plains", he said.

Inland Canterbury has endured some of the heaviest snowfalls so far.

Lake Tekapo nudged the 1973 record 67 centimetres of snow - measuring 60cm on Friday.

Cold rain, sleet and southerlies would continue for the rest of the day before dying out towards evening.

A severe weather warning for heavy snow remained in place for the higher areas of Canterbury and Marlborough.

Between 5cm and 10cm above 300 metres, and 20cm to 25cm above 500 metres were expected to fall overnight in both regions.

As of last night, Christchurch had received over half its expected rainfall for June in the preceding 48 hours.

Thirty millimetres of rain, sleet and snow had fallen in Christchurch since noon on Wednesday, MetService data showed.

The city's average rainfall for June was usually about 56mm.

Darfield had 54mm, Methven 49.6mm, Le Bons Bay 33.4mm and Ashburton 66mm.

The deluge comes less than a week after Christchurch was hit by more than 90mm of rain in 48 hours, and the city has received 143mm of rain so far this month.

The highest rainfall for June was recorded in 1995, when the city had 183mm of rain.

The heavy rain contributed to a burst water main in the central city yesterday morning and blocked drains across the city, with warnings about contaminated water and severe flooding of farmland near Tai Tapu.

A Christchurch City Council spokesman said earthquake- damaged wastewater systems were fragile in parts of the city and had been blocked by rain.

"It's possible flooded roads and parks may be contaminated, so avoid the water where possible or make sure you wash your hands and remove and wash any clothing that gets wet."

There were also problems with toilets not flushing, and blocked pipes which should abate with the storm, a spokesman said.

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King tides expected from Sunday to Thursday could bring further surface flooding to the lower Avon and Heathcote river areas.

Seventy one schools closed across Canterbury yesterday due to the weather, and about 30 in Otago and Southland.

Christchurch City missioner Michael Gorman said the agency's night shelters had been full ever since the quakes, but there had been a few more inquiries with yesterday's snow.

- The Press

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