More severe weather, travel disruptions expected in South Island
Winter storms are expected to return to the South Island this week, bringing heavy rain, gales, floods, more travel trouble and up to half a metre of snow in the high country.
Just days after the storms that brought snow to low levels and travel disruptions, meteorologists forecast another low will arrive on Thursday.
"Another week and another severe weather event shaping up for parts of the country," warned forecaster Blue Skies on Monday.
MetService said the storms would come from the west, but a southerly front at the same time would affect the southern half of the South Island.
* Snowstorms persistent, disruptive, and maybe not the last
* Watch: Hairy, scary drive up to Mt Hutt
* Porter's Pass, inland road reopen
* Power cuts, wild wind and rain hammer Wellington
"There's definitely agreement that severe weather is coming and will grip the country. But we're just not sure of the exact timing for each location," said forecaster Angus Hines.
"There's definitely a possibility of travel disruptions."
Temperatures would be cold, but not as cold as last week's storm from the Southern Ocean, he said.
Motorists were already facing disruptions in parts with the Lindis Pass, on State Highway 8, closed to towing vehicles just before 1pm on Monday.
The NZ Transport Agency issued area warnings for SH 8 between Omarama and Tarras and Fairlie and Twizel due to snow and ice, and SH 80 from Ben Ohau to Aoraki/Mt Cook due to snow.
Chains are essential for all vehicles travelling through the Lindis Pass.
NZTA advised motorists to take extra care when travelling.
Blue Skies forecast that Mid-Canterbury and South Canterbury were expected to bear the brunt of the storm, with up to 100mm of rain and more in the hill country, falling as snow above 500m.
Farmers were warned 20cm to 30cm of snow could accumulate above 500m on Friday, possibly more in Mid-Canterbury and South Canterbury. Altitudes above 700m could receive up to 50cm of snow.
At this stage the forecaster did not expect snow on the Canterbury plains.
For Christchurch residents, Blue Skies forecast wind and rain to be the main hazards, with gales for Banks Peninsula, near-gale winds over the city on Friday and a period of heavy rain.
Air and road travel were likely to be disrupted again. Rain on Friday may cause flooding in South and Mid-Canterbury, while the southern inland passes may have snow.
Cook Strait may experience gales and heavy southerly swells, most likely on Saturday, the forecast says.
Blue Skies agreed with MetService that, while the details of location and timing of the severe weather may change in the next few days, its arrival looked certain.
MetService forecast a chance of heavy rain for parts of the South Island including the Canterbury headwaters at the end of the week, a possibility of snow at upper levels, and severe south-west gales for coastal areas from Banks Peninsula north. It said a low could arrive in Canterbury and southern Marlborough late on Thursday and deepen on Friday as it moved east.
For Christchurch, MetService forecast fine weather until the southerlies arrive on Thursday night, with a chance of heavy rain and strong southerly winds for Friday.
"We are keeping a close watch. We'll be issuing severe weather watches and warnings when we have more clarity - people should definitely keep an eye on those."