19 Nov 2018

Snow blankets lower South Island with more on the way

12:29 pm on 19 November 2018

Snow has fallen to 400 metres in parts of central Otago, inland Clutha and Southland this morning, and delivered "about an inch of snow on every roof," right down to the lake in Queenstown.

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Photo: RNZ / Elle McCammon

The Crown Range remains closed and one flight has been cancelled due to the "unusual" late-spring weather event.

MetService duty forecaster Bill Singh said an unstable southerly flow is the culprit behind the snow.

"As we move towards the day, the snow level is expected to rise to about 600 metres," he said.

Snow may fall to 800 metres in central Otago, inland Clutha and Southland.

Snow may fall to 800 metres in central Otago, inland Clutha and Southland. Photo: Twitter / @NiwaWeather

"There has been a warning out for central Otago, inland Clutha and Southland for snow ... to [fall] to 800 metres where between 30 to 40 centimetres of snow is expected to accumulate."

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Photo: Facebook / Queenstown Lakes District Coucnil

Heavy snow has affected roads in the lower south, with the Transport Agency warning caution is needed on the Lindis Pass and State Highway 94 between Te Anau and Milford.

The dumping of snow closed the road through the Crown Range, which connects Queenstown with Wanaka, from just after 8am this morning.

It reopened for a short time after 11am, before closing again.

Multiple trucks are working to clear snow and Queenstown Lakes District Council say drivers will need chains when the road reopens this afternoon.

Milford Road is closed from Monkey Creek to West Gate.

Milford Road is closed from Monkey Creek to West Gate. Photo: Supplied / NZTA

Milford Road from Monkey Creek to West Gate (Chasm) has closed temporarily due to heavy snow.

The Transport Agency is also warning motorists travelling on State Highway 94 between Milford and Te Anau, and the Lindis Pass on State Highway 8, to take extra care because of snowfall.

And at Queenstown Airport, one flight from Queenstown to Christchurch was cancelled due to visibility.

However, all schools in the area are open and it's business as usual for many shops.

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Photo: Twitter / @NiwaWeather

Staff at Ferg Berger and Ferg Baker have been run off their feet with queues outside both doors, while Perky's Floating Bar manager Max Perkins said it was simply expecting to sell "a few less beers and maybe a few more coffees."

He said this morning's weather was a stark contrast to clear skies over the weekend.

"It was thirty degrees the other day, and lovely sunshine, and people were getting suntans and thinking about air conditioning and fans for summer - but we're right back into the snow again," he said.

MetService meteorologist Tui McInnes said such unseasonable snow dumps are rare.

This afternoon, MetService are forecasting thunderstorms, which are expected to bring localised heavy rain of 10 to 15mm per hour as well as hail.