The kids are asking, the parents are asking, and so too are people who have never played in snow before – where will the snow fall and will it land at my place?
The toughest part about forecasting snow in New Zealand is the fact that most of our main centres are coastal. The sea is warmer than the land so snow around coastal areas can be trickier – and tends to melt as it falls, and often doesn’t settle.
Snow will be falling in the mountains and will be heavy – and snow may also be heavy above just 100 or 200 metres, affecting farms and highways. However, sea level is more borderline – and the line can be as fine as just one or two degrees making the difference between a sleety cold day of rain, or a period of white snow.
Snow flurries to sea level are possible in both Dunedin and Christchurch from this event and maybe even Wellington’s hilltop suburbs on Friday night – but amounts may not be enough to build a snowman or have a snowball fight in the main centres, at least not at this stage.
For heavier snow, you may need to get in your car (after the snow has stopped falling!) – and this Sunday looks ideal for that in the South Island and perhaps next week for the North Island (with snow falling around Central Plateau this weekend roads may be affected). Check HIGHWAY forecasts here. Remember black ice will be a serious safety hazard on some highways over the next week and a half.
So, inland and above 100 or 200m in the South Island and around Central Plateau next week should be good for playing in the snow – with icy temperatures meaning snow should stick around at higher elevations – but may not settle at sea level.
Keep an eye on our detailed forecasts for updates on snow potential in both Christchurch and Dunedin:
If heavy snow does start to settle at Sea Level we’ll start live updating too.
Temperature map for Friday evening – note how warm the air is over the sea and how much colder it is inland – this is why forecasting snow to sea level is harder.
To give you an even clearer picture of the temperature gradients across the Canterbury plains look at this close up air temperature map for Friday evening. Inland areas like Ashburton and Darfield have a greater chance of snow than Christchurch City does, for two reasons: 1) The air is colder inland 2) The further inland you go, the higher above sea level you head. Everyone has a chance of snow, but the chances are greater the further inland (and higher up) you go.
– Maps by Weathermap