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Cold snap hits lower North Island

Published: 2:01AM Thursday September 24, 2009 Source: Newstalk ZB/ONE News

The central and lower North Island has been struck by snow, high winds and flooding, leaving several motorists trapped for several hours at the summit of Rimutaka Hill Road.

The road has been reopened to motorists and the vehicles which were trapped have been removed.

Around 40 vehicles got stuck in about 30 centimetres of snow and the road will be monitored through the night.

Keep up to date with the latest weather forecast here

MetService has lifted its heavy snow warning for the Tararua Range but snow has been falling to between 200 and 400 metres in parts of southern Manawatu, central Hawke's Bay, Wairarapa and Wellington.

Heavy rain is falling from southern Waikato to Taumarunui, and across to Bay of Plenty and Taupo.

The heavy rain warning has been lifted in Taranaki, but remains in place for Taumarunui, Waitomo, Waikato south of Hamilton, Tongariro National Park, Taupo and Bay of Plenty.

MetService says strong cold easterlies and rain are slowly easing over the lower North Island.

Caution is also being advised on State Highway Two over Mount Bruce, as well as the Manawatu Gorge and State Highway 50 at Ongaonga.

MetService says snow is expected down to as low as 200 metres in the lower North Island.

Heavy snow is predicted to continue falling in the Tararua region and farmers have been urged to shift stock to shelter as paddocks become blanketed with snow.

Heavy sleet in the Manawatu Gorge has been making driving treacherous.

Snow is also expected to fall in the Nelson region, and State Highway 60 at the Takaka Hill is closed.

The predicted spring storm has sent temperatures plummeting and weather analyst Bob McDavitt says the cold air is meeting up with moist air and producing snow.

Police say snow and ice has been reported on roads from Ashhurst to Dannevirke and Woodville to Matamau. There are also reports of flooding on State Highway One north of Bulls.

The cold snap hitting the capital is expected to hang around until Friday.

MetService has issued a severe weather watch for the lower half of the North Island and the upper South Island with stormy weather accompanied by heavy rain, snow and gales predicted.

McDavitt says a large low in the Tasman sea is bringing in a warm front followed by a cold front and a new anticyclone has formed over the Chatham Islands.

Auckland is also being battered by heavy rain and strong wind and MetService has issued a severe thunderstorm watch for the surrounding areas, including the upper Waikato and Coromandel.

If you have footage of the wild weather around the country then send them to us at newswn@tvnz.co.nz

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