20 Aug 2020

Avalanche risk warnings to alpine area travellers

2:06 pm on 20 August 2020

Warnings for dangerous avalanches have been issued after 50 centimetres of new snow fell in 24 hours over some alpine ranges.

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Photo: 123rf

In the North Island, the danger rating has been increased to considerable for Tongariro down to alpine levels.

The Avalanche Advisory said the main risk was for loose wet avalanches and wind slabs.

"This storm system is a multi-day event with poor visibility and increasing hazard, making safe travel in the backcountry difficult," the advisory said.

People were recommended to wait until conditions improved before venturing into the backcountry.

A similar alert is in place for high alpine areas at Taranaki, and Arthurs Pass, Aoraki/Mt Cook and Wanaka in the South Island.

The advisory said most avalanches occurred within 24 hours of new snow, and more snow was expected for some regions.

It urged people to evaluate snow and terrain carefully and be prepared to change plans if heading into alpine areas today.

Alerts for heightened conditions are in place for Two Thumbs, Queenstown, Fiordland and Nelson Lakes.

The avalanche hazard was on the rise for the next 24 hours in Fiordland as a front moved in from the north, the advisory said.

"Be prepared to change your plans to suit."