25 May 2018

Cold blast not over: 'It is time to stoke the fire'

10:12 am on 25 May 2018

More heavy rain, snow, strong winds and thunderstorms could be on the cards this weekend as the cold blast continues throughout the country.

Rain pouring down on most of the North Island.

Rain pouring down on most of the North Island. Photo: MetService

Lightning strikes rattled the country overnight and a front moved up the country.

MetService meteorologist Stephen Glassey said the North Island was bearing the brunt of the nasty weather, experiencing more than 6,500 lightening strikes in the last 12 hours.

For today, MetService is predicting more wet weather, strong winds and possible thunderstorms for the North Island.

"There are still some thunderstorms over Waikato and heading into Auckland and other parts of the North Island," Mr Glassey said.

Mr Glassey said heavy snowfall was now easing, but warned that there could be a dumping in the Central Plateau.

"There is still some chance of some snow about the top of the Desert Road during today, but for the most part it will be about the higher ground and most people probably won't be affected," he said.

Mr Glassey said heavy rain was more likely to arrive in "short sharp bursts" than a prolonged downpour.

"There is the potential for flash flooding in the heavy showers and rain that move across ... the North Island sort of from the Manawatu northwards," he said.

But, the nasty weather would most likely miss the East Coast.

In the South Island, MetService has predicted heavy rain and hail.

And this morning a slip has closed the Crown Range Rd, the Queenstown Lakes District Council said. It was expected to be closed until 10am.

MetService said the wintery blast was due to persistent southerly winds bringing cold, polar air over New Zealand cooling temperatures, and helped to lower the snow level, reaching higher roads.

The cold blast will continue into the weekend, bringing more snow, rain and cold nights.

"We are in a situation where a number of fronts push over the country from the south through the weekend, each of which will bring a period of showers or rain depending on where in the country you are, with snow possible to 700m for parts of the South Island," MetService Meteorologist Tui McInnes said.

"It is time to stoke the fire or turn on the heaters," he said.

Niwa reported that Queenstown had a max temperature of 3.9°C yesterday - colder than any maximum temperature observed during the previous two winters.

Outlook for winter

Niwa forecaster Chris Brandolino said it would be a frosty week ahead but warmer than average temperatures should follow.

"I think the weather pattern is going to become more favourable for temperatures to warm up ... and that pattern may continue into June.

"The way things are setting up in the broader I guess globe is that the weather conditions are going to favour probably less southwesterlies and perhaps more east to northeast winds as we work our way into June."

There might be some significant rainfall for the upper North Island in June and drier than normal weather for the South Island.

"We're going to have to wait and see how the whole winter shapes up but as of now, the first two months of winter, Niwa is thinking that near average or above average temperatures for much of the county is likely."

Today's forecast


Showers with hail and possible thunderstorms, easing evening. Westerlies. High 17°C; Low°C


Showers with hail and possible thunderstorms. Westerlies. High 16°C; Low 8°C


Showers with hail and possible thunderstorms. Westerlies, strong and gusty in the morning. High 14°C; Low 4°C


Showers with hail and possible thunderstorms. Westerlies dying out evening. High 15°C; Low 6°C


Fine, with high cloud, but showers developing from afternoon as northwesterlies turn strong southerly. High 13°C; Low 7°C


Fine at first, a few showers developing about midday, some possibly heavy with hail. Southwesterlies picking up evening. High 10°C; Low 3°C


One or two showers developing late morning, more frequent in the afternoon, some possibly heavy with hail. Cold southerlies. High 9°C; Low 5°C


Showers, some possibly heavy with hail, easing evening. Cold southerlies. High 10°C; Low 2°C