27 Jul 2017

Tekapo cut off as rough weather hits South Island

1:57 pm on 27 July 2017

Snow and ice have closed roads in the South Island as another bout of bad weather heads in.

Snow in Tekapo, chains needed on road.

Photo: Allan Ure

State Highway 8, the Tekapo-Fairlie-Twizel road, was closed, but has now reopened between Tekapo and Twizel, although NZTA has warned motorists to take extreme care.

SH80 to Mount Cook National Park is also closed.

The Transport Agency said there was snow and ice on SH6 (Haast to Makarora), and vehicles using the Lindis Pass (SH8 Tarras to Omarama) must have chains.

MetService has issued a severe weather watch for Canterbury, along with North Otago, for heavy rain and snow.

Snow and ice closed South Island roads.

Photo: NZTA

The two regions were inundated last weekend, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of homes.

Oamaru recorded its wettest day since records began, receiving 161mm of rain in a 24-hour period, while Christchurch received 167 percent of its normal July rainfall in a single weekend.

MetService put in place a warning for heavy snow for inland Canterbury, including the Mackenzie Basin, and for heavy rain on the West Coast

Up to 50mm of rain could fall in Canterbury and North Otago this afternoon.

The agency warned significant rainfall was possible in areas that had already been flooded.

"Although amounts here are not expected to be excessive they could still cause further localised surface flooding and slips."

Meteorologist Andy Best said a cold front was rapidly moving up the country, bring "a very strong blast of Antarctic air".

It would hit Wellington from about 6pm today, bringing cold gale-force winds of up to 85km/h with it, he said.

"It's not going to be very pleasant in the capital at all."

As the front moved further north, the areas around Ruapehu, Taupo, Hawke's Bay and Gisborne could all expect heavy rain from tomorrow morning, Mr Best said.

There would also be snow down to 700m, gradually lowering to 500m in some places.

The rough weather would start to clear in the South Island, moving north, from Saturday - but it would come with a cold "sting in its tail", Mr Best said.

Temperatures could plunge as low as -5°C in Wanaka, -6°C in Queenstown, -3°C in Dunedin, and an extremely chilly -13°C at Mt Cook Village, he said.

For the latest on road closures check NZTA's website and, for weather warnings, check MetService.

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