26 May 2010

Flooded South Islanders brace for snow

10:45 pm on 26 May 2010

Many roads in Canterbury and Otago remain closed due to flooding and locals are now bracing themselves for snow storms.

South Canterbury and North Otago were hardest hit by the rain, which caused significant flooding and closed roads and schools in the area this week.

MetService has lifted severe weather warnings as the rain continues to ease, but snow is now forecast for Canterbury, Otago and Southland, and for the South Island's mountain passes.

Forecaster Andy Downs says Canterbury and Otago should now prepare for a strong southerly overnight on Wednesday which could cause heavy snowfalls, starting on Thursday night.

"If there's still problems with the roads being closed in areas due to recent rains or slips and floods, then snow on top of that's really not going to make conditions great - certainly not for drivers or travelling around."

Mr Downs says people thinking about travelling on the high passes on Thursday or Friday should keep a close eye on all traffic warnings.

State Highway 1, north of Oamaru, is closed at the Waitaki Bridge though it is possible to take a 90-minute detour via Kurow, while State Highways 82 and 83 have been reopened.

Rowan Carroll, from Waitaki District Council's Civil Defence, says drivers taking the detour should take extreme caution and allow an extra 90 minutes of travelling time.

The Waitaki District Council says pot-holes are also appearing on damaged roads and those wanting to drive should look out for manhole covers that may have been lifted off by flood waters.

Meanwhile, supermarket owners in Oamaru are re-stocking bread shelves, after flooded roads caused deliveries to be cut off for days. It was hoped milk supplies would also reach the North Otago town by Wednesday night.

Close eye kept on Taieri River

The flood risk in Otago is gradually decreasing, although river levels remain very high, the regional council says.

The Taieri River breached its flood warning levels and has caused surface flooding on roads in Outram on Wednesday.

The council has contacted occupants of flood-prone properties along the Taieri to warn them.

The regional council's manager of environmental services, Martin King, says the river is flowing fairly steadily but if another heavy burst of rain falls, it could rise further.

Rivers in North Otago and South Canterbury are continuing to recede.

Meanwhile, eight rural water pumping stations in the Waitaki district have been shut down due to poor water quality due to heavy rain.

Light flooding in Wellington

There was light flooding in parts of Tawa and Porirua overnight on Tuesday.

The Fire Service says it received 33 calls and was close to evacuating some homes, but water levels subsided before midnight.

Police say there were some reports of cars floating in deep water at Semple and Awarua streets in Porirua. The road into Titahi Bay had to be closed for about an hour.