Brrrr, how about that frost?

Below zero cold snap felt across Waikato

FLORENCE KERR AND LIBBY WILSON
Last updated 05:00 27/05/2014
turoa ski field
Peter Drury/Waikato Times

GRIN AND BEAR IT: Snowfall doesn’t deter trampers heading up the Turoa Ski Field road to a Ruapehu mountain hut. Michela O’Sullivan, of Ohakune, centre, makes fun of the cold with Welsh visitor Neil Davies, who was on his first tramp. In the background, Barbara Ward of Wellington packs away her camera.

Wayne Baker, wood
Chris Hillock / Fairfax NZ
WINTER FUEL: Wayne Baker from Ace Tree Recycling says he’s sold out of split wood for winter.

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Turn up the heater or throw another log on the fire because the cold winter nights have a grip on the Waikato.

Cold snaps are being felt across the region with Tokoroa, Te Awamutu and Hamilton gearing up for another subzero night of -2 degrees Celsius.

Matamata will have a low of zero and the rest of the region will fare little better, with temperatures below 5C.

And the winter blast is having an impact on power usage, WEL Networks Acting Chief Executive David Smith said.

"This [yesterday] morning our peak load was 214MW, whereas last Monday it was 192MW, which is more than a 10 percent rise in energy usage."

Wood was selling fast at Captain Compost in Frankton and owner Stuart Giles said the cold weather brought in extra customers over the weekend.

"Nearly every second customer is getting wood. I'd say our customers for wood trebled."

The most popular source of heating being snapped up is coal, Giles said.

And firewood provider Wayne Baker owner of Ace Tree Recycling said the cold blast three weeks ago saw his sales increase.

"It is expected around this time. The next wave should come about July/August when their wood runs out."

Baker said the best advice he could give people was to stock up early.

"We sell wood in the summertime and that gives our customers time to let the wood dry for the next winter."

The wintry blast hit the the rest of the country with the first snowfall on the Desert Road causing the postponement of the annual Kaimanawa Horse muster yesterday.

Kaimanawa Heritage Horses co-ordinator Simone Frewin said they hoped the muster, organised by the Department of Conservation and the New Zealand Army, would take place today.

Cold and frosty days lie ahead for the Waikato, Coromandel and Central Plateau but the first day of the long weekend looks more forgiving.

Today could be one of the coldest so far this year but there was an upside, MetService meteorologist Elke Louw said.

"We've actually got this high pressure that's going to be raging in so that helps to clear all these showers away. And as a result of this cold air that has come up from the south, that's still going to be lingering around. So we're going to have those beautiful clear skies."

Residents of the Waikato and the Coromandel Peninsula were expected to wake to frosty minimum temperatures of around -2C today, whereas the Central Plateau would experience -4 to -6C and severe frosts.

Motorists in the area should on alert for the unseen danger of black ice, which could be produced if the rain and melted snow on the surface froze in the low overnight temperatures, Louw said.

Maximum temperatures were set to creep up to the low teens around the region, and Louw predicted Wednesday would be much the same.

"There's definitely going to be a bite in the air. You're definitely going to feel a change in the temperatures and that cold that's going to go through your layers of clothes."

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Raincoats and umbrellas might be out again on Thursday when a new front and southerly winds were expected.

And though the cold seems here to stay, the wind and rain were due to clear by the "icy" start of the long weekend.

"Most parts of the country seem to actually be fine on Saturday. Everything starts to clear quite nicely," Louw said.

"For most parts of the country it looks like a fine day with light winds."

- Waikato Times

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