Weather: Fresh threat of thunderstorms, small tornadoes, heavy snow warnings

  • 01/07/2023

There's a fresh threat of thunderstorms for the southern South Island and western parts of both islands as a new active front moves north on Saturday.

This could bring areas of heavy rain and small hail - along with a risk of small tornadoes.

"There is a moderate risk of thunderstorms over coastal areas of northern Westland, Buller and western Tasman during the afternoon and early evening, and from Whanganui to western Auckland this evening and tonight," MetService said.

"These thunderstorms may produce localised rainfall rates of 10 to 15mm/h, strong wind gusts of 90 to 110km/h, small hail, and a slight chance of small tornadoes."

In the far south, there is a moderate risk of afternoon and evening thunderstorms, with brief heavy rain, small hail, and strong wind gusts of 90 to 110km/h.

Meanwhile, there's also a large number of active road snow warnings, as well as a heavy snow warning in the south as a cold southwest flow persists through to Monday morning, MetService said.

The weather forecasting agency said several troughs embedded in this flow are forecast to bring snow to low levels over the southern South Island.

Heavy snow warnings have been issued for southern parts of Otago, Southland including Stewart Island and southern Fiordland, while a heavy snow watch remains in place for northern Fiordland. 

"The heaviest snow is expected from Saturday evening through to Sunday evening, where 20 to 35cm of snow is expected above about 300m, with lesser amounts down to near sea level," MetService said.

"Heavy snow may disrupt travel in affected areas and could damage trees and powerlines. Cold conditions may cause stress for livestock."

A series of snow road warnings have been issued for Milford Road (SH94), Crown Range Road, Lindis Pass (SH8), Haast Pass (SH6), Porters Pass (SH73), Arthur's Pass (SH73), and Lewis Pass (SH7).

MetService also issued strong wind watches for much of the South Island.

Meanwhile, in the North Island, a strong wind warning has been issued for Hawke's Bay south of Hastings and the Tararua District. There is also a road snow warning for Desert Road (SH1).