– Heavy Snow possibly on the way…roads could be closed across both islands.
Warm weather has all but ruined skiing conditions on Mt Ruapehu as several days of warm rains continue to melt snow away. Both Whakapapa and Turoa have their upper slopes completely closed due to snow melt and Turoa only has one beginner facility open. After well over a week of milder temperatures which were reminiscent of mid autumn rather than mid-winter, a surprise cold blast is now set to pounce.
“A low south of New Zealand is going to fire up a fast moving low. Bitterly cold air will spread up Canterbury then into the eastern North Island” says the Radio Network’s Head Weather Analyst Philip Duncan. “This is great news for ski fields, especially in the North Island who desperately need more snow, but not so good for travellers”.
Travel plans could be disrupted for many if conditions prove to be severe enough. “The Rimutaka Ranges may see snow heavy enough to close State Highway 2 at the summit on Friday, the Desert Road could also be closed on Friday night or Saturday morning…it’s really a wait and see game until we get a clearer picture”. Mr Duncan says snow may also close roads in alpine areas across the South Island.
Some forecasters, such as BlueSkies in Canterbury, are predicting that snow may even fall in Christchurch city. “There is definite potential for this to be a serious snow issue for Christchurch city, and the wider province” but also acknowledges this depends on subtle variations in the weather systems.
Weather.com is forecasting highs of just 3 or 4 around Canterbury on Friday “that is borderline for snow” says Duncan. “With temperatures around that mark, along with rainfall, it could either be a bitterly cold rainy day or good dumping of snow”.
MetService isn’t forecasting snow in Christchurch, in fact they are predicting significantly warmer highs of 8 and 9 degrees, however they are predicting heavy snow for the Canterbury, Marlborough and southern North Island Ranges.
And in the North Island warm weather will be blown out to sea as the strong cold southerly kicks in on Saturday. “At this stage places like Hamilton and Auckland, who have had highs around 18 lately, will be half that on around 9”.
But the coldest weather is likely to affect Central Otago. Weather.com is predicting overnight lows in Queenstown of minus 7 in the weekend and minus 9 next Tuesday. “That could make the ‘feels like’ temperature more into the negative teens” says Duncan.
Due to the instability of this system, the Weather Watch Centre will monitor conditions closely. We’ll also update you if conditions look less severe.