Significant NZ snow storm looking likely

Filed in: forecasters have increasing confidence of an incoming significant snow storm, especially for central parts of New Zealand as an extensive polar blast lines up for Sunday through to Wednesday across the country.

The weather news authority expects widespread travel problems and snow again falling in places that don't normally see it.

"Our data has lined up for the first time all week and we're now ready to predict snow to sea level from Otago to Hawkes Bay" says head weather analyst Philip Duncan. 

Mr Duncan says data this morning, from the same source that accurately and exclusively predicted snow in several main centres last month, is this time calling for snow to very low levels around Wellington and across Hutt Valley and the chance of snow in Napier, Hastings, Masterton, Dannevirke, Palmerston North, Hawera, Stratford and potentially Wanganui.  Snow is unlikely to settle for long to sea level, or near sea level, in the North Island however. 

"Canterbury to Marlborough will have blizzard potential. It's likely this snow event will have much higher totals than the July snow storm". believes this snow storm is only side-swiping the country with coastal areas more exposed in the South Island than inland areas.  Heavy snow could fall as far inland as the main divide though.

Yesterday was holding off on making a solid prediction until more of the models we rely on came into line.  The conflicts were enough to make delay a storm forecast for the first time, but maintains the extra time has helped ensure a more accurate prediction.

As predicted yesterday we feel the bulk of the snow storm will stil be offshore between Canterbury and the lower North Island.  It's possible some of the heaviest snow falls will be in parts of the North Island when cold air meets higher precipitation levels. Canterbury is also expected to be significantly affected.

Snow could cause travel issues for motorists right down to sea level from Southland to Otago, Canterbury to Marlborough, Wellington to Wairarapa and Hawkes Bay to Central Plateau. Snow may even be an issue on highways as far north as the Gisborne region.  Snow on the North Island ranges is predicted to be especially heavy with data used by predicted snow showers for the Desert Road from Sunday night all the way through until Wednesday.

"This snow storm is really the perfect storm" says Philip Duncan.  "We have a high stretching over 6000kms from the tropics to Antarctica expected to form in the Tasman Sea, meanwhile a low in the central Tasman Sea will move east into the Pacific Ocean over the weekend, combining with a Southern Ocean low.  All three systems will work together to provide an impressive southerly blast rarely seen here".

Farmers have been advised to urgently move livestock with predicting the heaviest snow in southern and eastern regions of both islands, from Southland to East Cape.  Severe southerly gales will add to the misery with wind chills well below minus zero predicted.  Farmers are right in the middle of lambing season.

Snow is again expected on the Coromandel Peninsula and Kaimai Ranges.  Moisture levels aren't very high for the Auckland region but current models show conditions being cold enough for snow on the hills around Auckland, but has only a 30% confidence of rain on Monday night/Tuesday morning (when it's most likely).


In the South Island all Alpine passes are likely to be affected then all roads across coastal Otago, Canterbury and eastern coastal Marlborough.   In the North Island the Rimutaka Ranges are expected to have snow heavy enough to close State Highway 2 from Sunday night onwards while further north the Desert Road is expected to receive snow heavy enough to close the highway from late Sunday with the potential for heavy snow right up until Wednesday morning.  Snow will also affect State Highway 5, Napier to Taupo, and potentially State Highway 2 Whakatane to Gisborne.

Snow is expected at Queenstown Airport but data still shows that Central Otago and much of Southland will be on the far edge of the snowy blast.  Dunedin and Christchurch airports may be affected (Christchurch at a higher risk) by snow heavy enough to close runways, while severe gales could cause delays and cancellations for small prop aircraft along the eastern South Island and lower North Island - especially Wellington and Chrisrtchurch airports.

A very large southerly swell is expected in Cook Strait from Monday to Wednesday.  Ferry crossings may be delayed or even cancelled.

Extra updates. will have extensive coverage of the incoming snow storm with extra updates over the next few days. 

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Christchurch or Dunedin worst (best?) hit?

G'day. Would you expect Dunedin or Christchurch to get the greater snow accumulation over the next couple of days?  Thanks very much.  Great service - appreciate your work!


Is timaru likely to get snow this time & if so how much? cheers, think you guys do a great job :)

Hi Linda - thanks for the

Hi Linda - thanks for the support!  Details on Timaru, and other centres, is here

- WW

Hi, what sort of wind speeds

Hi, what sort of wind speeds should we be expecting in central hawkes bay?
Great website!

Strong to gale force by

Strong to gale force by Monday, building over Sunday.

- WW

snow in lawrence/waitahuna

Hi,only just found you and think you may be more accurate than metservice so how will this compare to the last snow?


hello am just wondering if the snow will be the same thickness as Julys snowstorm for christchurch? worse or less snow?
thank you!! yous rock!!!

Hi Matt - thanks for the

Hi Matt - thanks for the support.  We think it will be as heavy, if not heavier and certainly more widespread across Canterbury this time.

- WW

What is the chance of snow in the Motueka Valley?

Hi there, is there any chance of snow falling in the Mot Valley again like last time? It was unexpected then... but would be wonderful to have again :)

Hi Michaela, very similar set

Hi Michaela, very similar set up but slightly different wind direction this time which may not seem like much but could have a major difference between you getting snow or not.  Probably too hard to call this one to be honest - but will certainly be close to it again... but last time there was a pool of moisture in the Cook Strait area, if that isn't there this time we doubt you'll get a repeat.

- WW

The perfect mix would be??

So what do i need to keep an eye out for?

snow in marlborough

Any chance of snow in Blenheim or Wairau Valley heading in the direction of Nelson lakes?

High risk of snow about 200

High risk of snow about 200 metres in the area, only a very low risk for Blenheim at this stage but we'll be monitoring it very closely.  Nelson Lakes will be exposed too, again above 200m mostly.

- WW

Nelson region?


Is it probable that we will get snow to sea level in parts of the the tasman bay region like we did a couple of weeks ago?


It's possible - we have a low

It's possible - we have a low risk forecast for snow in Nelson. 



Is this storm going to bring sleet to the Waitakeres like the last one?


Hi there - yes we think sleet

Hi there - yes we think sleet is likely and possibly snow, but at this stage our focus is on the main snow areas. We'll have a much better idea on Saturday or Sunday with regards to Auckland.

- WW

How much snow likely in Dunedin?

Hi there, is it looking like Dunedin might have more or less snow than last time, or about the same amount?

Hi there - we're thinking it

Hi there - we're thinking it will probably be a similar amount for Dunedin.

- WW

Snow on the Kapiti Coast

Hi There, what iare the chances of seeing snow again on the Kapiti coast? Any chance of snow falling to sea level?

Snow forecast for Wellington

The metservice are now forecasting snow or sleet for Wellington on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday - in all the years I have lived here, I have never seen metservice forecast snow for Wellington - in the past they have only gone as far as sleety showers. I wonder if it will settle?

We have high confidence of

We have high confidence of snow in Wellington - and you're right, it's unusual to see MS predicting that (or any forecaster!).  We back their prediction though, sounds like a rough few days for the capital - we actually think Wellington is far more exposed than Southland to this event. It could settle to low levels...all depends on timing (night time is more likely for settling).  One to watch!

- WW

How likely is it that the

How likely is it that the Christchurch Airport will be closed on Monday late afternoon (i.e. round 4pm.) I have to get back to Wellington for an event on the Tuesday so fingers crossed my travel won't be disrupted!

It's very tricky to know what

It's very tricky to know what criteria airports have in place to close airports - and all depends on conditions on the day.  We believe there is a high risk for travel disruption on Monday, and flying from Christchurch, Dunedon or Wellington could pose tricky on Monday - but we really won't be too sure of those specific details until the day itself.  Good luck!

- WW

How likely in Palmy CBD

Any chances snowing in Palmerston North CBD and how likely ? Jaxx

Yes, we have a low to

Yes, we have a low to moderate risk of a few flurries (not settling) sometime on Monday.

- WW

Snow Storm again

Global warming is getting a bad rap around here in Christchurch

Hi there - actually global

Hi there - actually global warming will produce more snow storms, not less!

- WW

Thanks for confirming the

Thanks for confirming the wise words of the late Neil Cherry; a wonderful meteorologist and humanist. Twenty years ago Neil spoke passionately about the increased trend of more chaotic weather as the atmosphere warms. Worse storms including snow was just part of this Global Warming Model.

hi guys AFter mastertons

hi guys

AFter mastertons heavyest snow in 26 years last month , are we due more this month the winds seem the same as last time?? would be amazing twice in a year!

Hi there - yes we think there

Hi there - yes we think there is a fairly high risk of further snow, possibly heavier and settling longer this time.

- WW

is this for sunday night?

is this for sunday night?

Overnight Sunday but more so

Overnight Sunday but more so on Monday

Do you think snow will close

Do you think snow will close the desert road and napier/taupo road on monday?

Hi there - yes, we believe

Hi there - yes, we believe the chances are high for the Desert Road and moderate for Napier Taupo.

- WW

Snow in Alford Forest

How much snow can we expect in the Alford Forest region (Canterbury foothills) this time? Last time it just about missed us completely.

Hi there - the wind flow will

Hi there - the wind flow will be more south easterly this time around which favours heavier snow for foothills.  Unsure about amounts at this stage...20 to 30cms seems to the number we keep seeing.

- WW

Invercargill snow

Do you believe Invercargill will get a dusting from this event? Cheers Matt

Hi there - yes we expect a

Hi there - yes we expect a few flurries, but nothing too heavy at this stage.

- WW

Do you believe Invercargill

Do you believe Invercargill will get a dusting from this event? Cheers Matt

What is the chance of snow on

What is the chance of snow on the western/southern side of Mt Ruapehu? You are talking about Desert Road being affected again the same as last time but i'm wondering about SH4 -Raetihi-National Park? Anything significant - closing roads? Thanks for all the work you are doing informing us all!

Hi There - we think snow is

Hi There - we think snow is very likely around to Ohakune but the Raetihi side may be far more sheltered.  Will be 50/50 for SH4 - but yes, could be closed too.


- WW

Weather Predicting Models

Hello team, just out of interest, can you give us a run down on how the models that you guys use work? You spoke earlier in the week about a european model etc and I's just wondering if you could do an article or something Churz.

Hi Geoff - might actually

Hi Geoff - might actually look at getting Phil  to do a video with the Herald on the different models.  Will have either a video or blog in the next week to explain it all

- WW

What are the chances the snow

What are the chances the snow is again going to fall to low levels in the Taranaki Region? Jo

We think there's a high risk

We think there's a high risk of snow to very low levels around Mt Taranaki (including Stratford and Hawera) and low risk lower down.

- WW


Will there be much snow in Timaru or will it miss south canterbury and hit Christchurch like last time?

We have moderate to high

We have moderate to high confidence of heavy snow in Timaru this time around with winds being more south to south east.  We'll have a much better idea closer to the time, so feel free to ask again for an update.

- WW