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Winter storm – more than just snow!

So much emphasis this week in the media has been about the chance of snow to sea level in the South Island – however this focus has only ever been at the bottom end of the scale when it comes to severe weather from this system.

As we’ve said all week, the main concern with this system was heavy snow inland to low levels along with bitterly cold wind chills produced by severe gales.  Areas like North Canterbury and inland parts of northern Southland and Otago have already had some big snow totals – with another 24 to 36 hours to go for some higher elevations.

“Many are very focused on whether or not it will snow in the main centres, but to be honest the bulk of the severe weather is in rural New Zealand, which we talked about on Monday.  Very heavy snow for inland parts of the South Island and central and eastern North Island, severe gales blowing into the lower North Island and parts of the West Coast and hail, thunder and squalls for many western parts of the North Island” says Philip Duncan from

The heavy snow inland to low levels is the reason why the main centres have a risk of snow, even if little falls. 

Mr Duncan says the storm is similar to the August 2011 storm but being two months earlier than August it means the air is just slightly warmer.  This is making sea level snow forecasts much harder to nail down.  “If it was 2 degrees warmer or 2 degrees cooler it would be much easier to make the call” says Mr Duncan. 

However the storm is much more than just snow inland.  Across Friday severe winds will affect more of the North Island – especially southern areas.  The south to south east wind could reach severe gale near the lower North Island, with speeds over 120km/h,

In Wellington, Marlborough and Wairarapa, near the centre of the storm where winds will be most severe, gusts may reach 140km/h in some rural/exposed areas.  The wind chill will be tough on livestock too.

Snow and gales on Friday are likely to affect roads and air travel for some – but the snow is coming in showers and just like heavy rain showers they can be hit and miss, so check with your airline before flying and with roading authorities before driving.

The storm is continuing to lower temperatures across Friday too.  Air from Antarctica is still be blasting across the country and Friday looks to be a very cold day right across New Zealand with many main centres below double digits at the warmest part of the day.

Saturday also looks colder – but sunnier weather should return to northern and western areas.




Guest on 21/06/2013 5:00am

What are the chances of getting snow to low levels in Dannevirke??

WW Forecast Team on 21/06/2013 5:06am

Overnight and Sat morning there is some risk – but it’s unlikely to be much if any. Sleet is more likely, snow down to about 200 or 300m on the hills around you (but may not settle for long).



john on 21/06/2013 1:13am

mr duncan makes reference to the 2011 storm and the difference being 2 months and the temperature warmer.The main difference I would have thought the 2011 storm the southerly was coming direct straight from the pole,isobars almost straight down from nz, where is this storm is the isobars when it hit central nz were coming more from chatham islands so therefore no where is near as colder air as the 2011 storm

WW Forecast Team on 21/06/2013 3:52am

Hi John, there were a few factors different this time around but I feel that had we been two months down the road we would’ve seen heavy snow to the coastline.  You’re right about the reach of this system, in fact I said on CountryTV the other night that another difference was that in 2011 the high to our east was bigger – it had a much bigger reach and, as you say, scooped up air from the South Pole basically!

Guest on 20/06/2013 9:48pm

Hay. Im disapointed you guys havnt got much on wellington here. I had gone for a (stupid(quite possibly)) drive last night and had to make my from tawa to titahi bay which took a fair while. Will say there is massive dammage to trees and industrial areas. Winds still 150+ kph here in titahi bay. Some areas are almost unrecognisable. Still dont have power and very little telecom recieption so maybe you cant get some reports. I believe almost everyone will remember this for life and have some incredible stories

WW Forecast Team on 20/06/2013 11:43pm

We have a lengthy story that was published around 1am!!  And we’re about to add another one now.

Thanks for your updates – we’re amazed there weren’t serious injuries.   Agree – will be remembered by some for a lifetime!



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