Spring storm hits southern regions
A key highway between Canterbury and the West Coast will remain closed over the weekend as heavy rain and snow continues to batter parts of the South Island.
The weather has also closed several roads and schools in South Canterbury, with Timaru receiving more than its average monthly rainfall in less than 48 hours and Fairlie receiving a decent dusting of snow.
The NZ Transport Agency said State Highway 73 would stay closed between Arthur’s Pass and Jacksons until at least mid-Monday.
An alternate route is available via the Lewis Pass (SH7). Drivers are advised to factor in an additional 90 minutes.
Systems manager Pete Connors said the Goat Creek Bridge remained intact, but the western approach had been washed away.
‘‘It’s still very much as it was built. The bridge was built on a curve on top of a rise in the road ... The angle of the camera adds to the optical illusion.
‘‘The creek has spilled through the abutment and a settlement slab has fallen off which is exactly what it is designed to do,’’ he said.
Contractors would need to fill in 5000 cubic metres to build up the road again.
The rain was easing off early yesterday afternoon but the water level needed to go down before the work could start, Connors said.
Some West Coasters were without phone, broadband and mobile data services yesterday because Chorus’ fibre connection was cut by the washout. A Spark spokesman said technicians were investigating.
SH73 was closed between Springfield and Arthur’s Pass.
A MetService spokesman said about 5 centimetres of snow was expected near the top of the road, with lesser amounts up to 600m.
Arthur’s Pass Cafe and Store owner Sean Moran said it started snowing about midday yesterday.
‘‘It’s the best snow we’ve seen all year,’’ he said.
SH6 from Hokitika to Fox Glacier was also closed. SH6 from Franz Josef to Fox Glacier had reopened.
State Highway 1 north and south of Kaiko¯ura remained open but could be closed as a precaution overnight if conditions deteriorated.
The Christchurch Operations Transport Centre (CTOC) said there were delays on the Christchurch Northern Motorway as drivers slowed to look at the flooded Waimakariri River yesterday.
A CTOC spokesman said there were no plans to close either bridge over the Waimakariri River.
‘‘The river level is high, but both
Storm moves north
MetService meteorologist Gerrit Keyser said Arthur’s Pass, the West Coast and parts of the NelsonMarlborough region were the worst affected yesterday. Heavy rain pelted the middle of the South Island and was expected to move to the upper West Coast and Tasman.
In the 24 hours to 5.30am yesterday, 350mm of rain was recorded at Arthur’s Pass, and 315mm at Mt Cook Village. At Ivory Glacier on the West Coast, the 24-hour total was 550mm, with about 590mm over 36 hours. A gust of 146kmh was recorded on the Rimutaka Hill, north of Wellington.
A group of school students trapped after a creek ran too high to cross returned to Dunedin yesterday. The 25 Otago Boys’ High School students stayed an extra night in the school’s lodge in the Mt Aspiring National Park after heavy rain on Thursday.
Above: Heavy rain has caused slips and damaged parts of State Highway 73 between Arthur’s Pass and the West Coast. The western approach of Goat Creek Bridge has been washed away.
Right: Snow settles around Castle Hill, Canterbury, yesterday. bridges are perfectly secure.’’