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Heavy snow has blanketed parts of Christchurch this afternoon along with bitterly cold southerlies gusting up to 80km/h.

The temperature in Christchurch fell from 7 degrees to zero in less than 90 minutes and blizzard conditions have been reported by our South Island weather analyst Richard Green.

Green has reported bus services have been cancelled.

The wind chill in Christchurch has been hovering around -9 degrees and dropped to -13.8 at one stage.

While it’s currently sunny in Wellington the Radio Network’s Weather Watch Centre is warning conditions will go downhill quickly in the next hour or two.  Sleet was reported in the capital earlier today but blue skies have now moved in.  “According to our latest satellite images the cold southerly will arrive before sunset” says head weather analyst Philip Duncan.  “We expect snow to just a couple of hundred metres around Wellington city overnight which will include some hilltop suburbs and the Rimutaka Ranges highway”.

Duncan says sleet is a possibility in tonight’s All Black game, with a wind chill between zero and minus 2 at kick off.

Sleet has also fallen today in Palmerston North and New Plymouth and snow fell on the highest peaks of the Kaimai Ranges in the Waikato, according to TRN’s Weather Watch Centre.  “Snow is expected to fall across Waiouru, Ohakune and the Desert Road until at least Tuesday afternoon so motorists need to be aware that road closures may last a number of days”.

Duncan says State Highway 5, The Napier Taupo Highway, may also be closed for a time overnight due to snow.

Heavy snow is also expected to continue to fall in Queenstown and Cromwell for another 24 hours with another burst on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Meanwhile reports came in this afternoon from both New Plymouth and Palmerston North of hail storms bigger than some locals can remember.  Streets and lawns turned white as hail fell for up to 20 minutes this afternoon. 

These images, taken by New Plymouth Weather Watch reporter Greg Taylor show just how heavy the hail was.  “This is the closet thing I’ve seen to snow in 37 years” says Taylor.  “It was really heavy coupled with thunder and lightning”.

The Weather Watch Centre’s lightning radar has clocked up almost 3200 lightning strikes today, most have been near Taranaki.

Winds of 126km/h have blasted Cape Reinga this afternoon and over 80km/h in Auckland and Christchurch.

Squally conditions will ease from Taranaki to Auckland tonight however Duncan says conditions aren’t expected to ease significantly across all of New Zealand until well into Monday.


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