Spring storm hits south­ern re­gions

The Southland Times - - National - Tom Kitchin, Michael Daly and Joanne Car­roll

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.

Arthur’s Pass

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.

Flooded river

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 bridges are per­fectly se­cure.’’

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.

Stu­dents home

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.

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