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Snow reaches the North Island

Monday 25 Jul 2011 11:47 a.m.

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By 3news.co.nz staff

Snow is not just blanketing the South Island - areas as far north as Taupo are being given a dusting and high land around the Coromandel could also be affected.

It's been about 20 years since the top of the North Island has seen snow.

"It's a real cold one, a 15-to-20-year outbreak," says MetService forecaster Paul Mllinson.

"The last time we remember snow getting to this low in Wellington is around 1995."

Snow is expected to fall on the Waitakere Ranges, west of Auckland, Auckland, and in the Coromandel later today.

Plenty of it has been spotted above Auckland, but none of it has yet reached the ground, WeatherWatch analyst Philip Duncan told the New Zealand Herald.

"We have snow clouds in Auckland, that is always a good tell-tale sign that we've got snow," he says.

"In fact one of the showers we had before, with light, quite sparse - that to me was quite certainly melted snow - not actual rain."

There have even been reports of snow in Raglan, a beach town west of Hamilton.

"This is a national event," Mr Duncan told the Herald.

Around 25cm of snow is expected to fall on the Desert Rd, south of Taupo, which is closed until further notice.

In the South Island, several major roads are closed around Dunedin and Queenstown.

Flights to parts of the South Island have been cancelled, and around 160 passengers are stranded at Wellington Airport.

Snow stopped falling around Invercargill long enough for roads to stay open but Te Anau has been hit again. It was little more than a week ago when heavy snow cut off communication to the township for several days.

It snowed all day yesterday, and at least 11cm has fallen.

Motorists in Christchurch have been told to check with their employers to see if they have to travel to work today, and both Lincoln and Canterbury University have been closed for the day.

Full list of road closures:

  • SH1: Gore to Clinton – closed
  • SH 1 Waitaki Bridge to Dunedin - closed
  • SH 1 Dunedin to Gore - closed
  • SH6: Kingston to Five Rivers -closed
  • SH6: Five Rivers to Dipton -chains required no towing vehicles.
  • SH93: Mataura to Clinton - closed
  • SH94: Gore to Lumsden - chains essential, closed to towing vehicles
  • SH94 Mossburn to Te Anau - closed to towing vehicles, carry chains
  • SH94 Te Anau to Hollyford Turnoff - closed to towing vehicles, carry chains
  • SH94 Hollyford Turnoff to Milford - closed
  • SH97: Five River to Mossburn - chains essential closed to towing vehicles SH 8 Raes Jnc to Milton - closed SH 85
  • Palmerston to Kyeburn - closed SH 87 Mosgiel to Kyeburn - closed SH 8 Alexandra to Roxburgh - chains required SH
  • 8 Roxburgh to Raes Jnc - open care required

In Dunedin, graders on the steep northern entrance to the city gave up trying to keep the road open, but others were taking full advantage of the cold snap.

The chilly blast has already making its way up the country reports are coming in of snow down to sea level in Wellington and Motueka.

State Highway 1 from Oamaru to Dunedin and through to Gore is shut down, and State Highway 6 from Queenstown to Kingston is also closed.

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