The New Zealand Herald

Brace for chilly, gusty blast

If you’ve forgotten what real winter storm feels like, ugly reminder is approachin­g fast

- Ryan Dunlop

IT is time to rug up as the year’s first real “winter storm” nears, with half a metre of snow forecast in the South Island as well as thundersto­rms and gale-force winds in the North Island.

MetService meteorolog­ist Arno Dyason said the looming storm was a “perfect set-up” to produce snow, combining heavy rain with freezing Antarctic air.

“A big low is developing in the Tasman Sea . . . as it moves north these really strong southerlie­s are dragging up a lot of cold air, almost from the Antarctic.

“A lot of the heavy rain will turn into snow in elevated areas, especially in the South Island. It will feel like a real winter storm — quite unusual for this time of year.”

Before the storm arrived, there would be a few showers across most of the country.

“But it will be pretty reasonable compared to what is coming,” Dyason said.

Meteorolog­ist Tom Bell said the North Island would experience cooler temperatur­es, strong winds and thundersto­rms from today.

A thundersto­rm watch was in place for Waikato, Waitomo and Taranaki until 3pm today, while Northland, Auckland, Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty, Rotorua and Taupo were on watch until 5pm with winds of up to 110km/h.

“Wind gusts of this strength can cause some structural damage, in- cluding trees and power lines, and may make driving hazardous.”

Strong winds were also predicted across the West Coast of the South Island in Buller and Westland.

Gale-force winds were expected to affect the upper South Island and many parts of the North Island today.

Meanwhile, in the South Island heavy snow was predicted with the potential to cause traffic delays.

“That is going to have a pretty potentiall­y big movement on traffic movement in the South Island,” Bell said.

Heavy snow warnings were in place for the Kaikoura Ranges and the Canterbury Plains and High Country.

“Snow is also likely about the higher roads of the North Island later on Tuesday,” MetService said.

Forecasts further into the week showed weather weakening by Friday. The deep low over Bay of Plenty causing the foul weather in the north should move away to the east tomorrow and the associated severe weather should clear.

Brief heavy rain is possible over western areas of the South Island on Thursday and possibly rainfall would approach warning levels over Fiordland and southern Westland.

These really strong southerlie­s are dragging up a lot of cold air, almost from the Antarctic. Meteorolog­ist Arno Dyason

 ?? Picture: Bay of Plenty Times / Herald graphic ?? Mt Maunganui on a stormy day in February this year.
Picture: Bay of Plenty Times / Herald graphic Mt Maunganui on a stormy day in February this year.

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