key word: Malaysiakini
Polar blast expected to last all weekend
NZPA | Friday, 22 June 2007
Another polar blast is set to hit the country today and the bad weather will last for most of the weekend.
Severe weather forecaster Bob Lake said the worst affected regions would be in the south and gale force winds would be the issue across the rest of the country.
"We are in for a cold weekend," said Mr Lake.
Central Otago was in chaos yesterday with abandoned cars littering roads and many areas reported to be impassable across the South Island. The snow eased overnight but is expected to return today to low levels.
The storm yesterday left one person dead. Wanaka police said Veronica Lee May Tan, an international student from Malaysia studying at Otago University, died when the car she was a passenger slid off the Makarora-Lake Hawea Road on State Highway 6 and crashed into the lake.
Three other women survived and were taken to hospital suffering from hypothermia.
Transit New Zealand reported today that State Highway 80 to Mt Cook, State Highway 83 between Kurow and Omarama and State Highway 6 between Makarora and Haast were closed. Caution was advised on State Highway 73 between Arthurs pass and Otira, and generally in the central South Island, Nelson and Otago.
Police advised motorists to watch following distances.
Mr Lake said the snow storms that affected Otago and parts of Canterbury largely cleared overnight.
"We have another front coming through approaching the far south this morning. That will bring a resurgence of cold south westerlies and some more snow down to fairly low levels, particularly in Fiordland, Southland and Otago," he said.
By midday the front should be over southern Otago.
Behind the front there are strong south westerlies, which will cause temperatures to plunge and bring as much as 20cm of snow at the 300m level with some falls below that.
Mr Lake expects road travel to be disrupted again today in the affected areas, particularly later today.
"The thing to note about this is these conditions will last through tomorrow. There will be another front coming through tonight and early tomorrow, which will keep these conditions going," Mr Lake said.
He said the bad weather may continue through to early Sunday.
The Central Otago skifields should pick up a reasonable amount of snow, he said.
Dunedin is likely to get snow on its hill suburbs.
The cold air will travel north but the Canterbury region should be protected by the direction of the windflow.
Most of the activity will be offshore from Canterbury but there could be some snow falls in South Canterbury.
Strong winds were in prospect in the Wairarapa region during the weekend, particularly tonight and tomorrow night.
"That could produce severe gales around the Hawke's Bay to Wairarapa area," he said.
This polar blast was the sort of thing experienced from time to time in winter. The amounts of snow would not be huge but they would be significant.
"This is the third we have had in a series of cold southerly outbreaks," he said.