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Wintry snap “a bit of a fizzer”

All the advisories were out on Friday but it appears the weekend wintry snap hasn’t turned out to be such a big event. 

While cold weather has affected the South Island with snow around Queenstown today and snow to even lower levels expected overnight, it’s becoming clear the system hasn’t lived up to the forecasts.

Head weather analyst Philip Duncan says the main problem was a lack of moisture.  “The system just didn’t have enough moisture in it to really generate big snow falls and large thunderstorms.  To be honest it’s a bit of a fizzer”.

Heavy squally showers and thunderstorms did form today but the majority of the activity hung just off the Taranaki and Auckland coastlines.  “The energy and instability is there, but it just hasn’t really affected populated places”.

Mr Duncan says it’s not over yet, with a small low developing off the West Coast and drifting towards Taranaki tonight.  “This will inject a bit more energy into thunder and shower activity off the North Island’s west coast during Sunday.  There could be a few thunderstorms and heavy showers, so people should still be aware that conditions remain very unsettled”. says heavy showers are still moving into the areas north of Taranaki and may be heavy enough to cause surface flooding. Conditions are likely to be more showery on Sunday for the North while colder air will spread over the South Island bringing a few light snow flurries to low levels.

Around 1700 lightning strikes have been detected around the New Zealand region today, mostly well offshore.

snowy picture
Snow in Queenstown this morning / Alison Metherell

What are conditions like where you are?  Post a comment below.


sw on 12/06/2010 8:24pm

One of these days unawares it will bite us in the bum like june 12 2006 or aug 27 1992.

guest on 12/06/2010 8:04pm

were just out of central southland, woke up to a tiny bit of snow on the ground. were about 90meters above sea level. shame that the weather was a fizzer. fingerscrossed for some more snow for the kids in the coming weeks or months.
currently our temp is saying its 0.9 degs , wind chill about the same.
never had a southerly wind all night, wind mainly from the west to north west.

Pete on 12/06/2010 11:16am

How do you take/forecast/guess the moisture levels? If you use humidity readings from around the south island (east coast) they are going to be very low during a nor’wester obviously. Not trying to be pedantic after all I dont know and would like to enlightened.



WW Forecast Team on 12/06/2010 12:23pm

Hi Pete – good question.

Doesn’t really have anything to do with local humidty readings – as that reflects the air on the ground in one location.  One of the main tools is satellite imagery – we can see very few tall clouds in the south at the moment – and this map here (hopefully it works for you) shows water vapour in the atmosphere.  The heaviest rain is usually where darker areas meet the grey areas.  A sign of different air masses and the most likely place for heavy rain.

That’s a basic, rough, explanation of it anyway.


– WeatherWatch weekend team

Pete on 12/06/2010 1:17pm

Thanks guys!

Guest on 12/06/2010 10:46am

we just had a massive downpour of rain beginning at 10:35 or thereabouts and our rain scale went from 40mm to 65mm!!! in 10 minutes is this normal?!

JohnGaul on 12/06/2010 7:12am

Forecasts seem to be a ‘a bit over the top’ with this scenario but then better to be safe than say sorry.


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