Weather: A polar outburst brings freezing temperatures and snow to many parts of New Zealand

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A polar outburst will sweep through Aotearoa this week, leaving the whole country shaking in single-digit temperatures, with snow forecast for the lower half of the North Island.

From Tuesday, a polar vortex will hit, sweeping across the South Island. MetService warns of snow and “freezing” temperatures that could damage crops and stress livestock.

Snow is expected to fall in a number of major centers on both islands.

A heavy snow watch is in place for Marlborough, Canterbury, Otago, Southland and Firodland from 11 p.m. tomorrow until noon Thursday.

MetService warns that snowfall above 400m could approach warning criteria.

The snow is expected to disappear inland from Canterbury overnight Wednesday, but it could continue on the Banks Peninsula until Thursday afternoon.

Weatherwatch.co.nz today said snow was expected to fall briefly in the hilltop suburbs of Wellington, Wairarapa and Hawke’s Bay, as well as the central North Island and parts of Taranaki.

“For some of these places, snow may only fall briefly mixed with rain, especially below 250m.

“Sleet is also very likely to reach sea level for some time in the lower half of the island, from Wellington to Wairarapa to Hawke’s Bay. Snow showers can also fall very close to these centers , if not directly above them.”

The heaviest snowfall will be around the central plateau and the southern and eastern ranges.

Snow was likely to close many South Island roads on Tuesday.

On Wednesday and Thursday, snowfall was expected to reach warning levels for the far south, including Dunedin and North Otago.

Although Christchurch will be warmer on Tuesday with temperatures in the 1950s expected, it is expected to drop to 11°C on Wednesday and then to -1°C on Thursday morning.

Further north in Wellington, the cold wind will drop nighttime temperatures to 2°C and daytime highs to just 8°C.

MetService meteorologist John Law told the Herald that the cold southerly wind will make that feeling even colder.

The capital could even see snow in some places, and winds of up to 100 km/h will blow over the region. Rain could cause even more slips after 20 falls over the weekend.

The cold wind will reach Auckland, with nighttime temperatures of 2-3°C and daytime temperatures of 13°C.

Although it is freezing cold, the freezing weather will end quickly – by Friday much of the country is expected to start warming up to more seasonal temperatures – particularly in the South Island.

These warm temperatures will continue through the weekend and into next week.

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