Minus 5 with 100km/h winds…and this storm is moving your way

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The full fury of winter has arrived today with gales, snow and sub zero temperatures for both islands over the next 72 hours.
Currently in Invercargill, where the first front has now passed, the wind chill will be felt right through to the bone.  It’s minus 5 with a gale wind gusting to 100km/h.  And although this storm will weaken as it moves north, it is going to pack a punch over the entire country.
"Front after cold front will continue to slam into New Zealand right into next week, with the worst weather arriving between now and Saturday" says Head Weather Analyst Philip Duncan.  "This is going to be a harsh storm, which may affect any lambs born early".
Mr Duncan says gales will accompany the snow which will bring wind chills well into the negatives.  "We will be seeing wind chills of -5 or -6 in many exposed areas in the South Island south of Otago and around parts of North Island’s Central Plateau".
Here's a time line of this polar blast...
Early hours of today (Thurs):  Front 1 moves up the South Island.  Snow starts to fall in Southland and Otago high country.
Mid Morning:  Front number 2 hits Southland while Front number 1 moves into Christchurch.
Noon:  Front 1 reaches Cook Strait, temperatures will plummet in Wellington by afternoon.
Tonight:  Front 1 reaches Auckland.  Front 2 reaches Wellington.  Snow lowers in Southland and Otago to near sea level.  .
Friday afternoon:  Front 3, the coldest of them all, reaches South Island.  Snow falls to low levels.
Saturday afternoon:  Front 3 moves over North Island.  Snow may affect SH1, the Desert Road, and SH5 the Napier Taupo Highway.
Monday:  Front 4 arrives with more rain than snow.



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- Reports have just come in from our South Island Weather Analyst Richard Green, that snow is currently falling in Clinton (near Balclutha) and in Gore.  Sleet and hail, along with gales are slamming into Invercargill.


- And gales are pounding other regions - Up to 140km/h at Castlepoint and 100km/h in Kaikoura.


Conditions are likely to ease tomorrow morning, before a more severe front hits tomorrow night.


More news as it comes in…



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Big Cold snap on the way...
-         “It’s going to be windy and wintry – just horrible for many places”
-         Plenty of snow on the way for ski fields in both islands.
It’s been a long time coming – but a cold snap is on the way and it’s set to bring snow to Queenstown, low parts of Southern New Zealand and possibly the Desert Road. 
Head Weather Analyst Philip Duncan warns the cold snap will see temperatures plummeting into the negatives along with a bitterly cold wind chill. “It’s going to be windy and wintry – just horrible for many places”.  Global weather giant, is predicting highs of just 6 degrees across Southland and Queenstown over Friday and the weekend, with similar temperatures about the central plateau. "Snow squalls are likely around Queenstown and may even fall in the town.  Waiouru may also see sleet or light snow - which may affect the Desert Road at its highest point". 
Even Aucklanders will shiver under cloudy skies and chilly winds.  "Highs around 13 are expected this weekend, well down on the 20 degrees they were seeing a couple of weeks ago.  With wind chill it may feel more like 9 or 10 during the warmest part of the day.  It's going to miserable for most New Zealanders this weekend"
But not all New Zealanders will be unhappy with the weather.  Our South Island weather analayst Richard Green says although snow may fall to low levels in both Southland and Canterbury, ski operators will be very happy.
This storm is changing by the day, so our Weather Watch team will be closely monitoring it, and will be able to give more details about snow fall, affected roads and towns, and how this storm is going to affect you.  We'll also update you on the latest storm warnings from MetService.



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Gales, then get ready for the cold…
A cold front is moving towards New Zealand and preceding it are very strong, dry north west winds.  MetService, who provide official warnings, have issued severe wind warnings for Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa and all regions south of Dunedin.  “Winds may gust up to 120km/h” the statement says.   MetService expect the worst of the wind to be during daylight hours today.
TRN’s Head Weather Analyst Philip Duncan says the country should brace itself for a big cold snap, on the way this Thursday, Friday and across the weekend.  “There will be snow to low levels and temperatures will plummet”.
The Weather Watch Centre will closely monitor the first big Winter storm of the year, and will release an in-depth story this evening (Tuesday) for use in news & on-air Wednesday.



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In what has been the warmest May on record, since figures started in the 1850’s, we today move into Winter.  June 1st marks the first day of Winter in New Zealand and for many it’s hard to believe the coldest weather of the year is only a few weeks away.  TRN’s Head Weather Analyst Philip Duncan warns not to be fooled by the warmer weather.  “The cold weather is building over Antarctica and as soon as the large highs move further north we’re likely to be walloped by some pretty cold weather out of the blue.  I’d suggest that most seasons over the past year or so have been running a month or two late…winter may well start in late June and run into late October this year”.
Of course that’s looking into the crystal ball – so what does this long weekend have in store for us?
Queens Birthday Weekend Weather
“This Queen’s Birthday weekend is going to be an absolute mixed bag.  Most places will see rain or showers, mostly on Saturday with the south having a wee cold snap on Sunday”.   Mr Duncan says farmers in South Hawke’s bay aren’t likely to see much rain.  “At the time this story went to air [Thurs night] there was just a 20% chance of showers in Hawkes Bay…that’d be lucky to be more than a few millimetres at best”.
The weather in your holiday town
Bay of Islands/Auckland/Coromandel/Bay of Plenty – rain on Saturday but improving on Sunday.  The cold weather won’t make it this far north so enjoy much warmer nights (back into the lower teens) and mild days (around 17 or 18).  Sunday and Monday should be enjoyable.
Taupo – similar to the north, but the rain will be lighter and the winds will be a little cooler on Monday…but nothing too unpleasant.
Gisborne & Napier will enjoy warm light nor’westers and more sun than anywhere else.  A few showers around Gisborne on Saturday otherwise a sunny Sunday and Monday.  Be aware strong winds may develop during Monday south of Napier.
Taranaki – showery and cool – highs only around 13 or 14.
Wellington – sorry guys, worse still – showers all weekend, improving Monday though but a cold snap will arrive on Sunday…high just 12!
Nelson – a few  showers Saturday will turn to light rain, but easing back on Sunday to mainly dry weather.
Christchurch and Dunedin – one or two showers, intensifying on Sunday with a bitterly cold southerly change – just 9 or 10 degrees your highs on Sunday.   Better on Monday. 
Queenstown and Central Otago – a few showers on Saturday then mostly cloudy and cold.
Invercargill: It’s been warm lately – but back to cold this weekend - wet Sat, then cloudy and cold with one or two shows Sun and Mon.  And it’s going to be really windy – gales possible on Monday.
West Coast - wet and cold but improving Monday.
*Rating your travel comfort.
SaturdayAverage.  Wet in most places will make driving conditions difficult for some, however the rain isn’t expected to be too heavy.
SundayGood.  Just a few showers about, otherwise a good driving day.
Monday: Good.  Drier roads, but watch for wind gusts in the south eastern areas of both islands.
Saturday:  Good.  Might be wet, but it should be calm for most places.  Could be windy in Wellington…(really?)
Sunday:  Good.  Good flying conditions.
Monday:  Average. Most main airports should be ok, but Napier, Wellington, Palmerston North, Dunedin, Invercargill and Queenstown could all be quite windy.  Napier and Invercargill especially.
Cook Strait ferries.
Saturday: Poor toAverage.Very rough sea and moderate swell, however easing during the day.
Sunday: Average:  A moderate Southerly swell.
Monday: Average to Poor.  Winds are likely to be gale force later in the day.
*These are just subjective opinions based on weather data provided on Thursday May 31st.  Please monitor the latest weather forecasts before travelling.



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         The last day of Autumn….or is it still an Indian Summer?  

No it's not a rugby score but the temperatures between the two locations at 6.30 this morning.  It’s even fourteen degrees in Invercargill.
That’s right - a warm nor'west flow over the eastern parts of the South Island has the temperatures currently rising across the South Islandi – with high’s in the low 20's expected in parts of Canterbury today.
“Officially it's the last day of Autumn but looking at our mountainous backdrop, there are very few indicators that winter is about to kick in” says South Island Weather Analyst Richard Green.
“The ski season is heavily booked like no other time and nature has yet to come to the party, but it is certainly early days yet”.
Rain with some heavy falls is expected today and into tomorrow in western areas mainly.
Cooler temperatures are on their way for the country but at this point, not quite the chill expected at this time of year.
Head Weather Analyst Philip Duncan will release a long range forecast for this weekend’s holiday weather by noon Wednesday, followed by a more detailed travel forecast on Friday.



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A weak front will bring a few showers…and cold in the South 
Queen’s Birthday Weekend is set to be a cool and quite cloudy one, especially for those south of about Taupo.   The high that has given us warm days and cold nights so far this week will gradually move off New Zealand and by Friday morning a cold front will move into Southland.  “That cold front will weaken as it moves into the departing High, so by the time it reaches Northland on Saturday night it will have lost most of it’s puff” says TRN’s Head Weather Analyst Philip Duncan.  “But it’ll still bring a few showers or brief rain for everyone in west”.  He says the South Island’s east coast will get a few shower Saturday followed by a colder south westerly which mean day time highs of just 9 in Dunedin on Saturday and 11 in Christchurch”.
“In the North a few late showers in Auckland on Saturday afternoon or night will give way to more cloud than showers by Sunday and improve further on Monday.  The East coast of the North Island will unfortunately see only one or two showers on Saturday night, clearing on Sunday, with highs in the late teens thanks to the westerly” says Duncan.
In the Capital showers and wind will dominate the weather.
A large high south of Australia will engulf the entire continent early next week, which will mean more west or south west winds for New Zealand from Sunday onwards.
Please note long range forecasts are just an indicator or over all conditions.  For that reason a more detailed forecast, including travel conditions will be issued on Friday.



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…Record Breaking Warmth
The South continues to enjoy a generally fine, sunny month with crisp nights and mild, sunny days
Temperatures have been in and around freezing point during the nights this week but due to a lack of snow on the Southern Alps in combination with a large anticyclone, daytime highs have been unusually mild for the month of May
TRN’s South Island Weather Analyst Richard Green says parts of Otago and Canterbury have seen average temperatures about 2 and a half degrees above normal.  “And in some cases, the warm spell has been a record breaker, dating as far back as the 1860's”.
Mr Green says there is a change on the horizon due by the weekend but by then, we are into the calendar months of Winter.
Head Weather Analyst Philip Duncan will release a long range forecast for this weekend’s holiday weather by noon Wednesday, followed by a more detailed travel forecast on Friday.



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-         Frosts all over the North Island
-         Down to 1 degree in parts of Auckland
-         Where did this cold come from?!
It came out of the blue – winter arrived overnight across many parts of the North Island.  Under clear skies and a bright moon, the mercury dropped to its lowest point so far this year for some.
TRN’s Head Weather Analyst Philip Duncan says although it was out of the blue, it wasn’t completely unexpected.  “Most in the North Island have had a very warm May thanks to warm westerlies and northerlies.  While these winds have lifted our temperatures we’ve all lost sight of the fact the sun is nearly as far away from us as it gets.  The shortest day is just three weeks away.”  Mr Duncan said that clear skies and no wind meant we could finally experience the “raw” air temperature.
He says the rest of the working week will be similar as a large high holds firm over the North Island.  In the South Island, a warm nor’west has seen temperature right up to 16 degrees in places like Gore this morning but with little wind in Dunedin it’s was minus 1.
Current temperatures:
Auckland:  1 to 5 degrees (depending where you are)
Hamilton: minus 1
Paeroa: minus 1
Coromandel Peninsula: 2
Taupo: minus 2
Southern Hawkes Bay: minus 1
One caller to Auckland’s Classic Hits says it was minus 4 on his Mangatawhiri farm this morning.



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         This is a “Major Drought”…“We are now in unchartered territory”  

Farmer’s in eastern parts of the North Island are facing a “major drought”.  That’s from Steve Wyn-Harris, a well known farmer in the region, writing a piece for Farmers Weekly.  “It has been a month since I flagged our distress in these parts as we grapple with a major drought and sadly there has been little change” he says.   That’s because the region is under fire from dry, warm westerly winds that deliver little to no moisture and worse still, remove what little moisture is left.  “It has become a serious economic disaster which now has balance sheet implications as well as serious farm profit effects” he writes.   
“I’ve had a look back through my farm diaries of all the droughts that I’ve farmed through during the last 25 years and I am in more trouble here at the end of May than I’ve ever been in the past. In all of those other droughts, pastures were recovering by now and we were even starting to restock with cattle” says Mr Wyn-Harris.
He says of the last ten months, only November recorded average rainfall with the rest well below.  “The 115mm for this calendar year to the end of May compares to 190mm in the drought of 1998”.
“Even the unpleasant drought of 1982/83 … had a drought breaking rain in May to yield 245mm for those first five months. However this May has had a meagre 3mm of drizzle.  So you can see that we are now in unchartered territory”.
Mr Wyn-Harris says it is important in times like these that “farmers keep talking to their families, mates and neighbours as a problem shared is less of a burden”.
This week farmers are about to have a series of drought fieldays where consultants and farmers will share advice and give them the opportunity to share their stresses and concerns with each other.
“We need to get strategies into place quickly to get us through what is going to be a very difficult winter and to avoid this event becoming an issue of animal welfare”.
As farmers struggle to survive, forecasters struggle to find any sort of rainbow.  Unfortunately things are looking bleak for the short term future.  TRN’s Head Weather Analyst, Philip Duncan, has been looking at weather patterns closely and says although some shower activity may arrive this long weekend, it doesn’t look to be a drought breaker – nor is it likely to stick around.  “The problem is we’re getting high after high parking out in the Tasman.  Normally at this time of the year they are further north, allowing wet weather to spread up from the South”.  But the Highs are not north enough, causing them to block the wet weather, and bring dry, warm westerlies to the east coast of the North Island.  “For the next 10 days we’re expecting warm days with mainly west to north west winds and just a 20 to 40% chance of precipitation this Queen’s Birthday weekend”.   
So what does June hold?  “Overall the anticyclones are starting to shift further north.  If this pattern continues into June moisture will have better access to move in to the area – the downside is that southerlies bring cooler weather, which isn’t so good for growing grass”.
Do you have drought stories to share?  Feedback?  Then please email