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The big Antarctic freeze is here! Polar air sucked up from the weekend’s storm is now settling as a large high moves in from Australia bringing clear skies, severe frosts and temperatures expected to plummet to around -7 degrees for some. 

The coldest time of the day has just passed and here are the current readings:
Queenstown: -4
Hamilton, Nelson, Blenheim: -3
Taupo: -2
West Auckland: 0 degrees

The Radio Network’s independent Weather Watch Centre is predicting temperatures across central regions of both islands will drop to around -7 for some residents. The Centre says Alexandra, Queenstown, Waiouru and Ohakune are most vulnerable.

Head weather analyst Philip Duncan warns motorists should take extreme care this morning and the next two mornings. “Black ice forms when moisture on the roads from rain or melted snow and ice freezes overnight. It’s impossible to see and can be deadly. This week motorists across both islands need to take extreme care”.

A few snow flurries are still possible around Central Plateau today but Duncan says conditions should really start to improve. “Skiers are in for a real treat today, tomorrow and Thursday”.

Meanwhile West Coast will continue to see sunny weather today. “It’s a region that often gets overlooked and painted with the ‘always wet’ brush but in actual fact Westport and other West Coast towns have, apart from one thunderstorm, had very settled, sunny and relatively mild weather lately compared to the rest of the country”.

Yesterday morning Hamilton was affected by freezing rain. “Freezing rain is when rain falls on to surfaces that are below zero. It was minus 3 in Hamilton at 6am and showers moved through shortly afterwards freezing to car roofs”. Duncan says freezing rain is extremely rare as far north as Waikato. “To be honest I’ve never heard of it happening there before. It’s more of a southern New Zealand thing”.

The next winter depression is on the way for this weekend. “Severe gales across the lower North Island, gales in other areas and heavy rain for the west coast are all in the picture. Snow is also likely to return to Central Otago later on Sunday and in to Monday. “This is great news for the hydro lakes and our Weather Watch Centre is still expecting the lakes to continue to fill up over the coming weeks”.



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