31 May 2009

Dangerous roads as icy blast heads north

9:40 pm on 31 May 2009

Police are warning motorists to check road conditions before travelling, after a day of snow, hail and high winds around much of the country.

Snow warnings have been lifted for the lower South Island - however, snow has caused at least one major road closure in the North Island, with police warning snow is likely to affect many roads.

The storm system which brought the snow is heading north, affecting areas in Hawke's Bay where police report blizzard like conditions between Norsewood and Waipukurau.

Constable Jonathan Viljoen of the Waipukurau police says the conditions are extreme and highly unusual.

Snow has forced the closure of State Highway Five between Napier and Taupo.

And police are urging caution on State Highway Two near Mount Bruce in the Wairarapa.

Travel warnings are in place for the Desert Road where up to 5cm of snow is expected by Monday and the Rimutaka Hill Road north of Wellington where up to 6cm snow is expected by Monday.

Farmers have been warned that the windchill is severe and they should provide shelter for vulnerable livestock.

In Auckland, it is wet and cold, with the Fire Service reporting that several trees are down due to the weather.