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Snow and flooding affect Canterbury

Cold weather continues to produce snow across Canterbury with snow falling in a number of inland areas.

Weather enthusiasts at the NZ Weather Forum have reported snow across the region along with heavy rain, which has caused some flooding issues. says the low that is responsible for producing the bitterly cold weather over the South Island won’t move very much in the next 12 hours.

Snow is expected to reach lower levels tonight once the sun goes down.

Many regions in the south and east of the South Island barely made it over 5 or 6 degrees today.

Homepage image: File / Aaron Waters


Ken Ring on 9/08/2010 11:57am

It is good that there is room for another opinion, other than the earlier view expressed by Weather Watch that spring has arrived early and the cold of winter has passed. I would suggest that one metre of snow in the weekend and more predicted to come in Canterbury is nowhere near spring. I would further say August precipitation has arrived, part of the onset of the kind of winter weather that brings most damage. Spring is still a long way off, if it comes at all for some. I think any premature reports of early spring that may be wrong can bring complacency to farmers, with the result that stock could lack protection from extreme cold in coming months when farmers might have instead invested time and resources to make advance preparations had they been forewarned. I have always said this winter would be a memorable one for cold and snow, on a par with the unusually cold winters of 1867, 1903, 1939, and 1975. There will probably not just be cold snaps in an otherwise warm season, but occasional mild spells in an unusually cold season. And there is still time to prepare.

WW Forecast Team on 9/08/2010 11:05pm

We never said the cold of winter has passed – we said the worst of the cold had passed.  We have seen almost no severe frosts for a number of weeks now.  We also explicitly said brief snow storms were likely right through spring.  You seem to chose bits and pieces of our frequent news stories to back your own predictions.

1 metre of snow up in the mountains is hardly a significant snow storm – it’s also very normal.  We spoke to farmers in Canterbury who said it was absolutely a non event for them – they were 500 metres above sea level in Canterbury.  They told us this isn’t very wintry at all.  

Snow in the mountains is just like predicting heavy rain fall in a rain forest.  It’s the populated areas that we are concerned with.

– Philip Duncan

Ken Ring on 10/08/2010 3:02am

Please clarify what “worst of the cold is passed” means, and how this differs from “brief snow storms (are) likely through spring”. Sounds like you are having a bob each way. You still seem to be saying winter hasn’t yet arrived, yet last week saw snow at Fairlie and sleet at Ashburton, and yesterday there was snow in Akaroa and Dunedin. The TV and newsprint media is full of stories about snow. What would be your criterion for winter?

WW Forecast Team on 10/08/2010 4:25am

Some in the media are running snow stories because there’s very little other weather news happening at the moment – it’s certainly more of an interest story rather than look at all the damage it’s done.

Snow doesn’t equal winter.  You should know that it takes warmer weather to create snow.  We don’t get snow when it’s -10 degrees. We need mild, wet, conditions mixing with cold southerlies.  In July we had a month of bitterly cold overnight lows that dragged down the national average – when really July was a mild month for many.  The lows were brutal for some, -9, -10 and colder.  That is the depth of winter.  And those lows lasted for weeks in a row – with highs in Central Otago barely getting above zero or very low single digits at best.

Lately their lows have been no way near as cold as that, even despite the recent cold snap.  Daytime highs have also been much better across parts of southern New Zealand and especially northern and eastern.

It’s not having a bob each way to say the worst of winter is over, but brief snow spells are possible.  Spring is historically full of a mixture of warm, cold and windy periods – this is what we’ve been seeing for about a month now.  Farmers are telling me they have seen grass growth all winter, even in more southern regions. 

Even the cold snap in the South Island that brought the small amount of sleet to populated areas was still only very brief… certainly not a week long event, just a few hours.  Already we have warmer, windy conditions set to return within 24 hours in the deep south.

My criteria for winter would be frequent frosts nationwide (not just the South Island and Central Plateau), snow storms that see snow falling at sea level or closing highways for more than a few hours and daytime highs that don’t reach more than 15 at best.  It would also see frequent nationwide southerlies and lows coming from south of New Zeland.  This hasn’t really been the consistent weather pattern we’ve seen this winter at all.  Certainly not recently where we have had frequent frost free mornings in our biggest centres and highs in the North Island (and South Island) making 18, 19, 20 and 21 degrees.  Doesn’t sound too wintry to me!


Ken Ring on 10/08/2010 7:39am

Where are these farmers Phil? It appears that Southland soil temperatures last week were only 6°C, and as you would know you need 10°C for grass growth.

WW Forecast Team on 10/08/2010 7:51am

West Coast (Hokitika), Manawatu, Taranaki, Auckland region, Waikato, Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, Northland.

Grass either grew right through or stopped for only a couple of weeks.



Ken Ring on 10/08/2010 9:51am

Yes, in the North Island there’ll always be some. But you said “Farmers are telling me they have seen grass growth all winter, even in more southern regions.” As you saw in the reference I gave, the southern regions are below par. You implied that southern farmers were getting grass growth, and because of that it was a mild winter down there. So with respect I ask again, which ones? I’m not trying to attack you, just seeking clarification.

WW Forecast Team on 10/08/2010 7:49pm

As I said much of the South Island’s West Coast, around Hokitika and beyond, have reported exceptional grass growth (above average) with plenty of sun and warm days.  Soil temps 9 degrees and above, right in the coldest part of winter.

Farmers in the traditionally colder areas in the east (Canterbury) have obviously not had grass growth all winter, but reported much milder conditions this season and grass growth continued later.

I would also consider Manawatu fairly far south and they, like Taranaki, saw good grass growth.


ben kissack on 1/09/2010 9:42pm

as a fact we have had a fair bit of grass growth this season and very little snow we have had a bit of flooding but this winter has been mild on the plains compared to other years i am 250 metres above sea level and for the past month we have had few frosts in 2006 we had -10 to -15 degree frosts and the temperturewouldnt get above 0 degrees for weeks

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