Just a few days into Winter and a big shot of Antarctic air is on the way for all of New Zealand this weekend. A large storm in the Southern Ocean is gaining strength and a wintry onslaught will start on Saturday in the South Island reaching the North Island later on Sunday. Snow is likely to sea level in the South while roads in the North may also be affected.
Starting in the South Island and snow is likely to fall later on Saturday in places like Queenstown and the hill suburbs of Dunedin. Invercargill will be rattled by hail showers sleet with gales, possibly severe, making for a very chilly weekend. Wind chills are likely to be below freezing – so this is not a weekend to head outdoors!
By Saturday night our computer models at the Weather Watch Centre are showing snow in Timaru, which is almost sea level, and that means neighbouring areas such as Ashburton and Christchurch may also see a few snow flakes. Highs for much of the South Island on Sunday are likely to hover between a couple of degrees and 7 degrees…and don’t forget that wind chill!!
Wellington’s likely to be very exposed to this wintry southerly on Sunday. Snow is a real possibility on the Rimutaka Ranges and further north on the Desert Road and Napier-Taupo Highway. It’s still a few days away so keep up to date with the latest forecasts… this has the potential to dump snow on our main highways in both Islands, especially Dunedin, Central Otago, and the Central North Island.
Winter this year, in my opinion, has been very quiet. Lots of high pressure has led to relatively warm days in the North with cold nights everywhere. Very little in the way of weather warnings or strong winds. But in the Southern Ocean, as you read this right now, there are some impressive storms are growling around Antarctica and the Southern Ocean…it’s simply a matter of time before we see our first decent winter storm of the year. I’m not convinced (at this stage!) that this is a biggie…over the next day or two forecasts will become clearer and more fine tuned…but whether this is a news maker or not, one thing is clear – winter is definitely arriving!