It’s been a while coming but this week Winter will take control of New Zealand thanks to a blast of polar air from Antarctica. Snow, gales, heavy rain, thunderstorms and possibly tornadoes are in the forecast for the next 7 days as the polar jet stream lifts over the country allowing frigid wintry air to move in. Weather analyst Philip Duncan says this system will affect both Islands with severe conditions. “A band of heavy rain and isolated thunderstorms is spreading over the North Island this morning but all eyes are now on a cold front moving into the South Island. The front will arrive tonight bringing snow flurries to Invercargill and Queenstown overnight with snow showers likely in Dunedin, Timaru and possibly Christchurch and Kaikoura”.
Duncan says a number of South Island roads will be affected and people should avoid driving after dark tonight. “Snow may well close a number of roads and passes around Southland, Otago and the Southern Alps”. Through Tuesday the cold front will march northwards bringing a bitterly a bitterly cold change to Wellington during the morning and heavy snow to the Central Plateau. “The Desert road and other roads around Mt Ruapehu may well be closed during Tuesday or Tuesday night with a high of just 3 degrees forecast for Waiouru and snow off and on all day”.
By Wednesday a very strong wind will blast the country with gales across central New Zealand. “There will be some squally showers along the west coast of both islands with isolated thunder, hail and possibly small tornadoes”. On Sunday the Radio Network’s Weather Watch Centre predicted the risk of tornadoes over the North Island and reports came in of a small one in Papamoa, according to One News. “The mix of warm humid air and cold polar air creates an incredible amount of instability in the atmosphere. This is the breeding ground for dangerous squally showers that can produce thunder, lightning, hail and twisters”.
Conditions are expected to settle on Thursday and Friday but another polar blast from the Southern Ocean is expected to race up the country on Saturday dumping more snow to low levels.