9 Jul 2020

Chilly blast: Trucks snowed in on closed Desert Road

2:50 pm on 9 July 2020

Truck drivers spent a cold night sleeping in their cabs after snow blocked the Desert Road (SH1) in the central North Island.

Sixteen centimetres of snow - the biggest fall this winter - forced the closure of the road from Taihape to Rangipo along with State Highway 49 through Ohakune. Both have since reopened.

Tyson Burrows from the Rustic Eating House in Waiouru said motels were fully booked as drivers waited out the snowfall.

"We're watching these snow ploughs trying to get the snow off the road ... and by the time they get off one stretch and turn around and come back the snow is so heavy the road is re-covered so they're not even getting anywhere.

"There's nothing moving on the road today

"Around here in Waiouru we've got about a dozen trucks that have come up and found themselves with nowhere to go. We've even got a couple of trucks that were waiting to get towed out of snow - it's got quite deep on the side of the road.

All the motels were full and some drivers were sleeping in their cabs in sub-zero temperatures, he said.

Meanwhile, a heavy snow watch remains in place for Banks Peninsula, with snow forecast to low levels in some places.

MetService has issued road snowfall warnings through to midday:

  • Desert Road (SH1) Snow showers expected about and south of the summit. Between 6am and midday a further 1 to 2cm may accumulate above 600 metres with lesser amounts to 400 metres.
  • Remutaka Hill Road (SH2) Snow showers are expected this morning. Between 6am and 11am Thursday, a further 1cm or less of snow may accumulate about the summit, with lesser amounts to 400 metres.
  • Lewis Pass (SH7) Snow showers are expected to affect eastern parts of the road during the morning. Between 6am and 10am , a further 2 to 4cm may accumulate above 400 metres, with lesser amounts to 300 metres.

There are no road snowfall warnings in force for Napier-Taupō Road (SH5), Arthur's Pass (SH73), Porters Pass (SH73), Haast Pass (SH6), Lindis Pass (SH8), Crown Range Road, Milford Road (SH94), Dunedin to Waitati Highway (SH1)

Main centre forecasts:

  • Auckland: Showers becoming isolated in the morning and clearing to fine in the afternoon, a high of 13C.
  • Hamilton: Early showers, then fine. Southwesterlies gradually dying out, a high of 11C.
  • Wellington: Showers, mainly about the eastern hills, some possibly heavy with hail this morning. Strong southerlies gradually easing. A high of 9C.
  • Christchurch: Showers becoming confined to Banks Peninsula in the afternoon, clearing evening. Snow to 300 metres, affecting the Port Hills. A high of 9C.
  • Dunedin: Cloudy periods, a few morning showers, a high of 9C