A short but potent burst of Antarctic air is moving up the South Island and will bring snow to very low levels today and tonight predicts WeatherWatch.co.nz.
The weather news authority first mentioned the cold snap over a week ago and says the models today are similar to eight days ago. “We get a lot of confidence when the models don’t change a lot” says head weather analyst Philip Duncan. “The positive is that this will be short lived, the negative is that the cold is arriving during lambing”.
Mr Duncan says snow in September is never welcome news for farmers in the middle of lambing, but suggests this isn’t a major polar blast. “It’s significant because it’s super chilled air from Antarctica, but we are in spring and that means it will pass through quickly. If stock are sheltered from the brutal southerly then the farming community should get through the next couple of days with only minimal issues”.
But both main forecasters are predicting snow which may briefly fall to sea level or very low level.
WeatherWatch.co.nz says Southland, Otago and Canterbury are in the firing line with the bulk of the snow falling around the Otago ranges and Southern Alps.
It’s welcome news for ski fields in both islands with heavy snow likely on Tuesday and Wednesday for alpine areas.
The strong to gale south to south west wind will ensure a wintry day for most exposed areas in the south though.
WeatherWatch.co.nz says snow is expected to sea level briefly as the front moves up the east coast. “A few flurries are possible to sea level, especially on Tuesday afternoon with a mix of sleet and possibly a rain/snow mix for Christchurch – but at this stage we aren’t talking about big amounts of snow across the Canterbury plains or Otago”.
Temperatures in Dunedin and Invercargill will take a hammering from previous weeks, with single digit highs for Tuesday and Wednesday and wind chills below zero. Despite some snow and sleet around for Tuesday both centres should see drier and sunnier skies through Wednesday.
“The feels like temperature could drop to minus five for some areas” says Mr Duncan. “This is the killer for newborn lambs, the cold wind with wet wool. Thankfully not a lot of precipitation is forecast, be that rain or snow”.
While the system does bring biting wind chills and snow to low levels it is not expected to be a major snow event.
“A high will move in for Wednesday and Thursday, bringing frosty conditions to regions in both islands but it will be short lived ahead of the next warm wind and rain event, scheduled to arrive this weekend” says Mr Duncan.
on 10/09/2012 11:16pm
Could we get any more cold Spring snaps bringing snow to sea level?
on 10/09/2012 11:25pm
Yes there is a risk this September and October for brief snow events like this. Our genera snow risk for NZ south of Taupo is "moderate" with "low" north of there for Sept and Oct.
on 10/09/2012 7:09pm
Yep, snowing pretty much to sea level in Dunedin currently