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NZ – Serious Antarctic storm on the way

A major winter storm is about to roar across New Zealand with a gale south east wind that is going to dredge up air from off the Antarctic ice shelf and deliver it directly into New Zealand’s southern and eastern coastlines.

The winter storm is serious and yesterday head weather analyst Philip Duncan warned farmers to move stock now. “Last June we had a wintry blast that saw wind chills as low as -15 on the West Coast and heavy snow in the east – we are again expecting this however it’s worth noting this storm far more oomph than the wintry blast in June last year”.

“This is serious and significant and farmers should immediately be moving to shelter their stock from bitterly cold winds from the south or south east”.

Mr Duncan says Scott Base will be dropping to near -40 degrees this week – and this is where our air will be coming from.  “This doesn’t happen often”. says that farm animals in NZ are used to a temperate climate – and while they can handle short lived Antarctic blasts this will be pushing the limit for some.  Jamie MacKay from Radio Sport’s Farming Show pointed out that if a cold snap has to happen “it’s better to happen in June” – in other words, better than late winter when lambs and calves are being born and are highly vulnerable. 

Mr Duncan says snow will be heavy along southern and eastern coastlines of both islands, down to sea level in the South Island to sea level or near it in the lower North Island.  Snow may also fall to low levels in Taranaki as the Antarctic air races through Cook Strait and towards Hawera and South Taranaki. exclusively predicted at the start of this year that there was a significantly heightened risk of a major polar outbreak this winter due to the weather pattern being very similar to 2011.  In winter 2011 snow fell in Queen Street Auckland, but didn’t settle.  It was only the third time in 100 years that snow had fallen in Auckland. 

It’s unclear if snow will make it as far north as the hills around Auckland but certainly snow is predicted by for the Coromandel and Kaimai ranges and a “moderate chance” of snow on the tops of the Waitakere, Hunua or Bombay Hills at some stage.

But the heaviest snow will certainly be in southern and eastern areas where it matters most. predicts significant snow falls in Dunedin and Christchurch with heavy snow expected across Southland, Otago and Canterbury.

Snow may again fall in Wellington City to sea level as the bitterly cold air blasts straight off Antarctica, over the ocean and then directly into the Capital with a wind chill well below zero.  Flights may also be affected. also predicts a high chance highways in the central and lower North Island will likely be closed or affected by the cold snap.  In the South Island road closures may be widespread for a time.

Flights and ferry services may also be delayed or cancelled due to big swells, snow to sea level and hurricane force winds out at sea.

The winter storm will hit the lower South Island on Wednesday then spread north over the entire country for Thursday and Friday before easing Saturday – before more rain and wind moves in on Sunday, but not as cold. will be tracking this winter storm closely with special weather videos and stories over the next few days.



Rawinia on 20/06/2013 4:40am

Hi how much snow will fall on the kaimai ranges and will there be snow on the tauranga part of the kaimais? And will the snow fall on the road at the summit or will it be only on the very peaks?

WW Forecast Team on 20/06/2013 7:40am

Hi Rawinia

Snow is fairly possible on the peaks to the north of Tauranaga where they area a bit higher. The road may escape flurries this time.


Guest on 19/06/2013 9:32am

I am concerned about the gale force winds coming into wellington. Can we fly in this weather ? Maybe it might ease by then?

WW Forecast Team on 19/06/2013 10:05am

Hi there – please have a read of the FAQ story on our homepage, as it talks about air travel – hard for us to make a call on peoples travel plans as it’s up to the pilots and airlines as to when they want to stop flying.  Wellington’s risk for flight delays and cancellations is mostly on Friday and maybe Saturday morning.



tash on 19/06/2013 5:56am

Hi, Just wondering now that the storm has been downgraded…is there snow expected for Oxford and surrounds

WW Forecast Team on 19/06/2013 6:56am

We haven’t really downgraded anything here at WW as currently things are still stacking up.

Oxford and surrounds still quite likely to get snow.


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