Extreme weather: Snow closes roads and schools, as north braces for heavy rain

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Heavy snowfall has blanketed parts of the South Island and heavy rain warnings are in place for parts of the North Island as the country is hit with stormy conditions.

The weather band is expected to affect most of the country, with heavy snowfall, showers and strong gales.

Snow fell across the Mackenzie Basin and central Otago Friday morning, closing two state highways and triggering warnings on others.

Up to 10cm of snow could fall as low as 400m and up to 15cm above 700m in the Canterbury high country south of the Rangitata River, MetService said.

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State Highway 6 is closed between Hāwea and Haast due to fallen trees and snow Friday.

Wakakotahi

State Highway 6 is closed between Hāwea and Haast due to fallen trees and snow Friday.

Snow could also fall at 400m, with more above 700m, until 10am Friday in the Queenstown Lakes District.

There are several South Island road snowfall warnings for alpine passes including Arthur’s Pass, Porters Pass and Lindis Pass.

State Highway 6 is closed between Hāwea and Haast due to fallen trees and snow, while SH8 between Fairlie and Twizel is closed due to ice. Chains are essential on the Lindis Pass (SH8), and a warning has been issued for SH80 from Pukaki to Aoraki Mt Cook.

MetService meteorologist Dan Corrigan warned people to be careful on the roads and avoid traveling where they can.

Snow in the village of Mt Cook early this morning.

SHARLENE MCKINLAY PHOTOGRAPHY

Snow in the village of Mt Cook early this morning.

Aoraki/Mt Cook Village resident Sharlene McKinlay said it had been snowing overnight in the area and moderate and continuous snow was still falling as of 6:30 a.m.

McKinlay said there was also at least 30cm of snow on SH80 and that snow removal was being carried out only in the village.

Alpine Energy said a power outage affected 113 homes using Mt Cook Village, Tasman Downs and Balmoral, Braemar, Ferintosh and Glentanner stations.

Line company Alpine Energy suspected the cause was ‘snow related’ and estimated power would be restored at 1pm on Friday.

Sharlene McKinlay / Supplied

Snow falling in the village of Mt Cook in the Mt Cook/Mt Cook National Park.

Bad weather overnight in the Mackenzie Basin also led to school closures, the cutting of two sections of State Highway 8 and the halting of bus service.

Bay of Plenty east of Ōpōtiki, as well as the Gisborne Ranges north of Ruatoria, are among the areas with an orange heavy rain warning for Friday, with up to 120mm possible over a 16 hour period.

Other areas expected to see heavy rain for at least part of Friday include Northland, the Coromandel Peninsula, Rotorua and the Bay of Plenty west of Ōpōtiki.

Omarama Township, south of Twizel, woke up to snow.

REBECCA FRENCH/PROVIDED

Omarama Township, south of Twizel, woke up to snow.

Bay of Plenty in the Ranges north of Gisborne is expected to suffer the most from the heavy rain, with 80mm to 120mm forecast.

“The band of rain crosses the country in the ranges [of Gisborne]which increases precipitation and falls into surrounding rivers, which could cause it to rise quickly,” a MetService spokesperson said Friday morning.

Residents of the area have been warned of the potential for flooding and slips, and to take care when driving in the area.

MetService is forecasting rain, at times heavy, for Auckland for much of Friday, while rain is expected to develop in the morning in Wellington then turn to showers in the afternoon.

“It’s going to rain pretty much all over the country today,” the spokesperson said.

“Everywhere is wet. »

Rainy weather in Hamilton CBD this morning as a band of rain moves across the North Island.

Tom Lee / Stuff

Rainy weather in Hamilton CBD this morning as a band of rain moves across the North Island.

Even the sunniest spot in the country is set to get soaked, with a heavy rain warning in place for Taranaki Maunga.

MetService issued the warning Thursday, predicting 80 to 120 mm of rain will fall on the mountain between 1 a.m. and 2 p.m. Friday.

“Maximum intensities of 1-25mm per hour could be expected in the morning,” he said.

Floods in Canterbury block Purau Ave near Diamond Harbour.

Sheryl Mcleod/Supplied

Floods in Canterbury block Purau Ave near Diamond Harbour.

A strong wind watch is also in place for southern Taranaki from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, with northerly winds expected to approach gale force in exposed locations.

Christchurch is expected to have some early morning rain on Friday, diminishing in the afternoon and clearing in the evening.

Snow is expected to continue to fall in the Canterbury high country for several days – up to 500m on Saturday, just a few flurries on Sunday, then possibly up to 400m in the south and 1000m in the north on Monday, with more tuesday.

Tekapo was a white Friday morning wonderland.

George Empson/Supplied

Tekapo was a white Friday morning wonderland.

The southern lakes and central Otago could have snow up to 500m on Saturday, MetService said.

There is also a possibility of heavy rain on Saturday in Buller, West Tasman, the Marlborough Sounds, Kāpiti and Wellington, while strong northwesterly gales are possible for Wellington and Wairarapa.

Despite the humid conditions, many places in Aotearoa will experience warmer temperatures, due to warm air moving across the country with rain.

“The North Island is expecting temperatures four to six degrees warmer than you would expect for this time of year,” MetService said.

Whangarei will be New Zealand’s hottest spot on Friday, topping the charts with a high of 20C, followed closely by Auckland at 19C.

“We will likely feel the warm temperatures most of the time during the night, due to the amount of cloud cover, as the clouds act as a blanket and push the temperatures up,” the spokesperson said.

Flooding in central Christchurch on Friday with a swollen section of the River Avon visible near City Hall.

ALDEN WILLIAMS / Stuff

Flooding in central Christchurch on Friday with a swollen section of the River Avon visible near City Hall.

Conditions were expected to ease on Sunday, but further heavy rain was possible on Monday for many parts of the North Island and for the northern South Island, MetService said.

Heavy rain was also possible on Tuesday over many parts of the North Island and parts of the eastern South Island.

Snow could be heavy above 500m on Tuesday in Canterbury, North Otago, Dunedin and Clutha.

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