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Snowfall traps 100 motorists

Snow falling across the country has trapped about 100 people in their cars north of Wellington and made roads impassable around the capital and Dunedin.

A polar blast sweeping up the country, this afternoon brought snow to the South and lower North Island and conditions are expected to get worse overnight.

Central police communications Inspector Mike Coleman said about 100 people had been trapped in their cars on the Rimutaka Hill Rd, north of Wellington.

“We’re going to rescue them and we’re just trying to reassure people to stay in their vehicles rather than get out and walk,” he told NZPA tonight.

Emergency services would likely use a four wheeled-drive vehicle and snow plough to clear the road and rescue the motorists, he said.

The road had been closed and snow was still falling in the area, he said.

Snowfall appeared to be starting to ease in other parts of Wellington, Mr Coleman said.

Earlier, snow had settled in Wellington’s northern suburbs, including Churton Park, Newlands, Karori, and there was flooding in Kilbirnie.

Police had received several reports of breakdowns and minor accidents, but no major accidents, he said.

Police advised motorists to stay off the roads in Wellington, particularly in the northern suburbs, where conditions were icy, Mr Coleman said.

The motorway was still drivable, but people had got into difficulty there too.

Anyone who became stuck in a vehicle not on the Rimutaka Hill Rd, would need to decide whether to stay in their car or venture out if they had warm clothing, he said.

Several state highways had been closed in the lower South Island because of snow and ice, police said.

Motorists should ensure they can complete a journey before starting it and drive to the conditions.



Guest on 14/08/2011 7:47pm

There’s about 120 mm lying on the ground here at Kimbolton in the northern Manawatu, and it’s still falling off and on. Cold, but very, very pretty.

Guest Ian Cooper on 14/08/2011 9:08am

Light snow fell here at Glen Oroua on the central Manawatu plains (between Palmerston North and the coast). First time since July 5th 2003. This time however it did settle  on the ground for awhile, 20 minutes actually. Two lots of forked lightning last month and now snow. A very memorable winter so far with maybe more to come!

Tiny on 14/08/2011 5:47pm

No snow in Hastings yet, but bitterly cold with the southerly picking up in strength.

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