23 Jul 2020

Wintry blast affects much of the South

10:37 am on 23 July 2020

First published on Otago Daily Times

By Emma Perry for the Otago Daily Times.

Parts of the south have woken up to snow, rain and wind today as a short, sharp southwest change hits the region.

Snow has settled at the summit of the Crown Range Road this morning, 23/7/2020/

Snow has settled at the summit of the Crown Range Road this morning. Photo: MetService

Extreme caution is urged on roads in the southeast area of Southland, particularly around Edendale, Wyndham, Glenham and the Catlins. Road surfaces are very slushy, the Southland District Council advised this morning.

The NZ Transport Agency's snow warnings for the South Island alpine passes issued last night are still in place today.

It said this morning, State Highway 87, from Outram to Middlemarch, is closed to towing vehicles.

Queenstown Lakes District Council said the Crown Range Road was still closed due to snow but contractors were working to get it cleared.

"It's not just the Crown Range that's seeing snow. Higher parts of Fernhill are getting coated, while flurries are also being spotted at lower altitudes across the Wakatipu Basin."

The NZTA advised caution to motorists taking SH1 from Dunedin to Palmerston due to winter driving conditions.

Central Otago District Council said this morning the roads were a mix of wet and dry with temperatures sitting between -1 degree and 5 degrees

In Fiordland, the Milford Road (SH94) is closed, from Hollyford to Chasm, due to heavy snow which was expected to continue on into this evening. It is likely to reopen tomorrow. Up to 25cm of snow was expected about the summit, with lesser amounts down to 200 metres.

In Southland, SH93 Mataura to Clinton, SH94 The Keys to Centre Hill and SH96 Ohai to Nightcaps are affected by snow and ice.

It looks to be a brief run of bad weather, however, as tomorrow conditions are expected to begin clearing for a mostly fine weekend in Otago and Southland.

MetService forecaster Cameron Coutts said the weather would be "pretty miserable", and road snowfall and wind warnings were in place across much of the region.

After an overnight change last night, Dunedin city was expected to reach a high of 9 degrees today with high winds, rain and some snow flurries on hills above 200m, Coutts said.

A road snow warning was issued yesterday for the Northern Motorway, State Highway 1 where snow showers were forecast for between 2am and 7am this morning. Up to 1cm was expected to accumulate on the road.

In Queenstown, wind, rain and snow flurries would be about until mid-afternoon today, with a high of 9 degrees.

Snow showers were expected on the Crown Range Rd until 6pm today, and 1cm-3cm was expected to accumulate near the summit, with lesser amounts down to 200m.

Invercargill would reach a high of 6 degrees today as sleety showers, hail and strong winds hit the city, Coutts said.

A heavy snow watch was in force for Fiordland, south of Dagg Sound, and Southland, south of Mossburn, and Clutha, with periods of snow above 400m forecast until 4pm today.

Clutha and Southland were under a wind watch until 1pm today and there could be gales of up to 100kmh in some places.

Coutts said the South would see a gradual improvement tomorrow and a cold, slightly windy but fine weekend.

* This story was first published on the Otago Daily Times website.