20 Sep 2010

Southland bracing for more snow

10:04 pm on 20 September 2010

Southland residents are being warned to stock up on emergency supplies, with more snow, storms and gale-force winds forecast.

Up to 20 centimetres of snow has fallen in the region since Friday, accompanied by very cold temperatures.

MetService says a front passing over Southland on Monday is expected to bring snow showers and gales.

Civil Defence controller Neil Cruickshank says residents should be prepared for road closures, power cuts and should avoid unnecessary travel.

He is warning people to secure lose material in their backyards. Structural engineers have been inspecting buildings in Invercargill following wild weather at the weekend including heavy snow which forced the roof of Stadium Southland to collapse.

Mr Cruickshank says the Civil Defence emergency operations centre is being scaled back, but will remain on alert overnight on Monday.

Hard time for farmers

The Southland Regional Council is advising farmers to keep a close watch on weather forecasts over the next few days.

Farmers say the weekend snow storms that caught them in the middle of lambing have taken a heavy toll on new-born lambs.

Doug Fraser, whose sheep farm is near the coast, west of Riverton, says it is the worst snow storm he has experienced during lambing and is expecting significant losses. He says if more snow falls, it could turn serious lambing losses into a disaster.

David Rose, who farms at Northope northwest of Invercargill, and is also Federated Farmers' adverse events spokesperson, says the snow has not been so heavy inland as on the coast.

Despite his efforts to get stock out of blizzard conditions into shelter, Mr Rose is still expecting serious losses. He says he was heading for a record lambing after a mild winter and may now be looking at up to 15% fewer lambs than last year.

Though they have not had to bear serious stock losses, dairy farmers have also been hit hard.

Civil Defence controller Neil Cruickshank says farmers need to be aware of the forecasts to make good decisions about sheltering and moving stock, and to make sure their animals have enough water to prevent them from dehydrating.

Mr Cruickshand says farmers also need to look after themselves and take care not to overwork themselves.

Road conditions stopped dairy tankers

Southland Federated Farmers dairy chair Vaughan Templeton is one of many farmers who have had to dump milk because Fonterra's tankers have been unable to reach the farms.

He says there was also a report of a dairy shed roof collapsing in the heavy snow.

Fonterra says 400 to 500 Southland suppliers missed out having their milk picked up during the weekend and some tankers got stuck trying to reach them.

Keith Mason, site manager at Fonterra's main southern processing plant at Edendale, says tankers started picking up again on Sunday night, north and west of Edendale, as secondary roads and farms became accessible.

The dairy co-operative says it has been able to divert some milk that would normally go to the processing site at Edendale to processing plants in Balclutha and Timaru.

It is hoping to get milk collection back to normal on Tuesday.