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Cold snap arrives in South Island, heading north

Snow, hail and cold winds have arrived in some parts of the South Island this morning and is expected in the North Island later today and early tomorrow as a very short lived southerly burst arrives.

The wintry snap – which is colder than last week’s brief cold snap but just as short – might drop snow flakes as low as just 100 metres in Southland and Otago – but it won’t stay long.

“This is a very short lived cold snap” says head weather analyst Philip Duncan. “For those in the Deep South it will last just 18 to 24 hours before lighter winds and warmer air returns”.

As of 8am Wednesday the first showers were making it into the North Island while rain, heavy at times, was moving up both sides of the South Island.

The main front was currently pushing into Christchurch too with showers now moving into Southland and Otago. Those showers will ease this evening and clear overnight with plenty of dry spells in between.

“This isn’t a major weather event but for some it will be briefly cold before windier, warmer, weather returns Friday and this weekend”. forecaster Aaron Wilkinson says snow may fall to 400m today then 200 metres for a time late Wednesday for Canterbury, and down to about 400 metres in Marlborough and Wellington overnight.

Snow is not in the forecast for Christchurch but could fall on the Port Hills as low as 200m for a brief time. Small and isolated snow showers ares possible in Dunedin above 100m but don’t expect much.

However small hail is predicted for many of the South Island main centres.

Due to the wind flow and geography of the South Island we expect some areas, like South Canterbury, to be less exposed to precipitation and some inland areas may have a mostly dry day today now that the rain has passed further south.

In the North Island rain then showers will continue to push north today with rain developing in northern areas later.  Rain will turn to showers early Thursday as the cold change slowly moves through. predicts snow will fall on the Desert Road late Wednesday and into Thursday along with the Rimutaka Ranges.

Single digit highs are predicted in parts of Southland, Otago and Canterbury on Wednesday.

So is winter making a comeback?  “This couldn’t be a more text book example of spring weather if it tried” says Mr Duncan. “Spring is all about regular reminders of winter coupled with increasing hints of summer. This week started off sunny and calm for many, with a wintry snap mid-week, then typical strong warmer spring westerlies this weekend. This is typical spring weather”.

Westerlies spring back into the forecast this Friday and weekend.



Guest on 4/09/2013 12:07am

Do you think we could see a dusting in the higher suburbs or just a wind event. What would you expect the maximum wind speeds to be and when for wellington? Thanks

Guest on 3/09/2013 11:10pm

In the East here about 8 degrees slight drizzle light to medium southerly . The Port Hills seem to be splitting it and its heading out west to Hornby area

Guest on 3/09/2013 6:11am

What are the odds we will get snow in Stratford tomorrow – Thursday?

WW Forecast Team on 3/09/2013 7:36am

Snow not looking likely for the Stratford area with this cold outbreak. It will stick above 700m, it might get to 600m if your lucky but whatever does fall to that level will be brief and probably wouldn’t settle.

Thanks for the question 🙂


guest on 3/09/2013 4:32am

hoping for snow any chance

WW Forecast Team on 3/09/2013 5:01am

Wednesday evening is your best shot but snow may stick above 200m on the Port Hills. Sleet is fairly possible for the city in the evening but it’s looking just a little to warm for any snow to get going really to sea level.


Dan w on 3/09/2013 1:45am

Im guessing and (hoping) no snow at all for invers?

WW Forecast Team on 3/09/2013 3:04am

Hi Dan,

We don’t expect snow in Invers but it will be close.  Going for a high of around 8 and with the extra sunlight now I’d say the chances aren’t high for snow – but with snow expected down to 100m you may get sleet.  Heavier snow likely above 2/300m.  Fingers crossed a shower blows some brief snow in for you!


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