8.44pm: MetService has issued a severe weather
warning for Otago, Southland, Fiordland, Canterbury, Wairarapa,
Wellington, Taihape, Taranaki, Wanganui, Manawatu, Marlborough,
Gisborne and Hawke's Bay. An extremely cold outbreak has already
brought snow to most of the South Island and southern and central
parts of the North Island. Snow is forecast to continue in the
south and east of the South Island and periods of snow are expected
over the southern half of the North Island. Very heavy snow is
expected in inland Canterbury and the south of Marlborough.
Late Tuesday heavy snow is expected to spread north into Hawkes Bay and the south of Gisborne.
The heavy snow is likely to continue to cause major disruptions to travel and will make driving conditions very difficult. In addition to this, the weight of accumulated snow on structures such as powerlines and on trees could cause further damage. Strong southerlies, gale about exposed coasts with the cold temperatures will make the wind feel bitterly cold, creating blizzard-like conditions in some places. Farmers are advised that stock may need shelter, particularly in view of the severity and duration of this event.
People are urged to keep up to date with forecasts as further warnings are likely as this event unfolds.
8.37pm: Air New Zealand has confirmed that flight NZ2426 bound for Wellington from Palmerston North was struck by lightning. The airline says the Beech 1900D aircraft with 16 passengers on board departed at 4.15pm. It continued on to Wellington as planned after the lightning strike and landed without incident on schedule at 4.45pm.
7.09pm: A power outage has been reported at Massey in West Auckland. Vector says it got the report at 6.42pm and expects the power to be restored at 8.30pm.
7.06pm: While most people have been trying to
keep warm in Wellington today, Happy Feet the Penguin got the
chance to get outside and jump in the pool. Wellington Zoo says it
was the same temperature outside as in Happy Feet's enclosure so
they were able to let him play outside. The zoo says he went for a
swim in his salt water pool - although it took a bit of
encouragement to get him to swim as it doesn't look like the
6.30pm: Wellington Airport says the airport is open but the runway is closed. It says people can go to the airport but currently no planes can take off or land. However they are continually checking on the status of the runway to see if it can be reopened. ONE News reporter Renee Graham is on a flight from Auckland that has landed in Wellington but is now stranded on the runway due to a power failure, meaning the flight bridge cannot be extended to the plane.
6.23pm: Orion says less than 100 customers were
without power in Christchurch and central Canterbury as at 5.00pm
and it expected to restore power to most of these customers by
6.00pm. Rural areas still without power include parts of Leeston
and Tai Tapu, and in Christchurch city isolated snow-related power
outages are affecting a few small pockets of customers. Orion
expects to restore power by 7pm to all of these customers except
about 10 in Tai Tapu where access is difficult.
6.15pm: Air New Zealand says Wellington Airport is closed as of 6pm due to the weather situation. The airline says the situation will be monitored throughout the evening and it hopes to get some flights out of the capital.
6.13pm: Police in the Wellington District are warning drivers to make essential travel only tonight, as snowfalls make driving conditions extremely dangerous. A number of roads in and around the district are currently closed, including the Rimutaka Hill Road, Paekakariki Hill Road and Blue Mountains Road, Upper Hutt. Traffic lights are out across the Hutt Valley and there are reports of power outages in Wainuiomata, however the Wainuiomata Hill Road remains open. State Highway 58 (Haywards Hill) is passable but extreme caution is needed and there are reports of snowfalls on State Highway Two (River Road) and Stokes Valley, making driving conditions extremely dangerous.
6.06pm: The New Zealand Blood Service says it still needs to meet its normal target of 3000 units nationally for the week, in spite of bad weather disrupting operations in the south. The Christchurch and Dunedin Donor Centres were closed today and the Westport and Mosgiel mobile collections were also cancelled. The Nelson Donor Centre will be open on Tuesday and Wednesday in order to make up for these collections being lost. While urgent donations are not needed, the service is calling on donors in Nelson and the North Island who are eligible to come in this week to donate to ensure supplies remain sufficient. Donors who wish to make an appointment are being asked to call 0800 448 325.
5.42pm: The Mountain Safety Council says there
is a high
risk of an avalanche in Queenstown and
Fiordland while most other mountains have a moderate avalanche
risk. Following the severe weather warning issued by
MetService, the council strongly recommends that skiers, trampers
and other snow and bush users take extreme care before going into
the outdoors during this period. The council's main concerns are
skiers heading into the backcountry once the weather clears but
while the avalanche risk remains high, and other backcountry users
who will find snow to very low levels.
5.22pm: MetService and NIWA agree snow fell in Auckland today, flakes flew in the wind and there were reports of it settling, at least in the Waitakeres.
5.07pm: Power is expected to be restored to the
majority of lower North Island customers on Powerco's networks by
the end of the day. High winds and snow have caused trees and
branches to tear down overhead lines resulting in cuts throughout
the Taranaki, Manawatu and Wairarapa regions. About 2000 properties
remain without electricity on its network, with Powerco expecting
about 1500 of these to be restored by tonight. Powerco says it
is likely there will be further power cuts tomorrow due to the
5.04pm: Chains are mandatory for anyone who has to travel in the Southern lakes region this evening. The Queenstown Lakes District Council says chains must be fitted for travel on the Crown Range Road, Fernhill, Coronet Peak and outlying roads in the Wakatipu basin. QLDC says ice is likely to be an issue overnight throughout the entire region and further snow is still forecast. There is some relief on the roads with the Lindis Pass and Kingston to Queenstown state highways now open, but chains must be carried and fitted where indicated. Police are assisting contractors with enforcement of chain fitting on the Crown Range and through the Kawarau Gorge.
The latest situation at 4.54pm: Much of the country is blanketed in snow, with flurries recorded as far north as Auckland, causing widespread disruption to business and ruining the travel plans of thousands.
In Christchurch, roads are closed, motorists have been stranded and community facilities like libraries and recreation centres are closed. Wind gusts of up to 65km/h downed powerlines. Hundreds of passengers are stranded at Christchurch airport and no planes have made it out of Queenstown . People have been skiing at the seaside in Sumner.
Snow has been falling in downtown Wellington for the first time in decades, while blizzard conditions descended on the central North Island. The Desert Road will remain closed for the day. SH4 through Taumaranui reopened this afternoon. Another afternoon front has brought the rare sight of snow flurries to suburbs around Auckland.
Federated Farmers is confident losses will be minimal as farmers were well-prepared . The South Island is expected to bear the brunt of the cold snap until Wednesday.
4.21pm: Prime Minister John Key has opened his post-cabinet media briefing by commenting on the uncharacteristic weather gripping the country. Key said: "Welcome to the winter wonderland that is Wellington. The country is experiencing some very uncharacteristic weather in certain parts. "I can't personally recall seeing snow in downtown Wellington. My wife tells me there is snow around our house, or at least there was for a short period of time in Auckland, so it's very unusual. The main message to New Zealanders is to be cautions and to be a little bit careful."
4.12pm: Christchurch International Airport says while this mornings snowfall has now been cleared from the airport's runway and apron, some flights in and out remain disrupted. This due to the weather conditions affecting other airports throughout the lower half of the South Island preventing aircraft movements. Passengers are reminded to check with their airlines before commencing travel. It is expected to still take some time before normal scheduling resumes. The airport says it is conscious more snow is forecast for overnight and preparations are in place should this eventuate.
4:06pm: Emergency Management Southland says
severe frosts on top of snow are likely in parts of Southland
tonight. It says motorists will need to be aware of the risk of
black ice, while householders and businesses in Northern Southland
and the Te Anau Basin should take precautions against frozen pipes.
Late this afternoon SH6 between Invercargill and Queenstown was
still closed from Five Rivers north, as were SH93 between Clinton
and Mataura and SH 90 between Raes Junction and Tapanui. SH1 to
Dunedin has reopened. MetService continues to forecast
continued snow across Southland until tomorrow. Power has been
restored to all areas in Southern Southland and Stewart Island and
there are no reports of problems in the parts of Northern
Southland that have experienced the heaviest snowfalls.
3.53pm: South Island clients of HealthCare New Zealand, nursing and home support, are being advised that only essential services are being provided today due to the weather conditions. HealthCare NZ says if anyone has an urgent query please call 0800 227 348.
3.35pm: For Aucklanders: MetService says more showers tonight, and still cold enough for snow, with less wind, maybe giving flakes a better chance to stick.
3.31pm: Canterbury police are urging motorists to remain cautious after the region experienced heavy snowfall over the past 24 hours, and with more forecast to fall in the next day or so. Police say while they have been dealing with loose snow on the roads today, they anticipate the wet conditions will freeze overnight and roads will be icy in the morning. Police are advising road users to assess their local road conditions before travelling and to stay at home or delay any non-essential travel where possible. Eight motor vehicle crashes had been reported to Christchurch police between 6.00am and mid-afternoon, mostly minor with no serious injuries reported.
3.05pm: Snow is gradually clearing from the
roads on flat areas around Christchurch. The city council says work
is now starting on clearing the lower section of Dyers Pass Road.
Crews are also spreading grit over bridge approaches and
overbridges. Motorists are still being advised to take care on the
roads and are being warned to look out for surface flooding as snow
3.00pm: Snowfalls in parts of Auckland have seen residents and workers rush outside from their homes and offices. MetService weather ambassador Bob McDavitt says while the snowflakes are not landing, they are floating around in the air. He says there have been snow showers in Pukekohe, the Bombay Hills, North Shore, Rodney, the Brynderwyn Hills and in Mt Eden. McDavitt says the last time snow settled on the ground in Auckland was in the early 1960s.
2.47pm: Bob McDavitt from MetService says the
white stuff that has just fallen across the Auckland CBD is not
snow, but graupel. Graupel occurs when ice forms on rain drops as
they fall to the ground.
2.35pm: The NZSO regrets to advise that tonight's 6.30pm Back to Bach concert at Dunedin's Otago Boys High School has been cancelled, owing to adverse local weather and road closures.
2.22pm: There are reports of snow in central Auckland, on the North Shore and in the Waitakere Ranges. A Beach Haven resident says she has never seen snow on the shore before. Waitakere Estate says there have been flurries of snow coming down over the trees and through the valley.
2.09pm: An urgent call is going out for Nelsonians to donate blood because of the snowstorm which has prevented the movement of blood throughout the South Island with Christchurch and Dunedin airports closed. The District Health Board says they need donors to come forward urgently as more bad weather is anticipated and there may be an increase in road accident casualties who will require fresh blood products.
2:06pm: It has been snowing on top of the Bombay Hills south of Auckland.
1:25pm: Christchurch International Airport says
it is open but is essential passengers check with their airlines
before beginning their trip as they will be the ones to determine
whether conditions allow them to fly. Domestic flights bore the
brunt of disruptions because of snow at the airport this morning.
The main runway and taxi-ways were covered by up to 8mm of snow but
have now been cleared by staff.
12.55pm: Access to Christchurch's CBD Red Zone remains closed to all contractors due to snow and ice. The CBD Red Zone Access Programme also remains closed. Access to the CBD Red Zone will be reassessed tomorrow morning at 6.30am.
12.45pm: The Otago rugby team is delayed in Auckland due to inclement weather in Dunedin, ahead of their ITM Cup match in the snow-bound southern city on Wednesday. The Razorbacks will stay overnight in Auckland and attempt to fly into Dunedin tomorrow afternoon.
12.35pm: Christchurch City Council is warning motorists to stay off city roads and to travel only if essential. Chains are required, but many local roads will not be cleared for some time.
12.30pm: Some flights are managing to arrive and depart from Christchurch International Airport, but it is essential passengers check with their airlines before commencing their travel. A thin, 3mm layer of slush lies across the main runway, which is being regularly graded. There have been some domestic inbound arrivals, but no domestic outbound flights. Christchurch City Council advises that all Council Sport and Recreation Centres, libraries and other community facilities are closed today.
12.15pm: Gale force winds in Auckland are now being mirrored in Christchurch, one of the worst-affected cities in the country. A number of power-poles in the Shirley area have been snapped by strong winds, and although lines pose a limited risk to residents, people should still be cautious.
12.05pm: Snow is falling down to sea level in Christchurch, and 40km/h winds are whipping snowflakes through the southern city. People are asked to stay off the roads.
12.00pm: Orion says that while the network in the Christchurch area is performing well at this stage, the forecast is for further heavy snow in the next 24 hours which may cause more issues for crews working to restore power. Patience is advised.
11.55am: Some towns on Banks Peninsula are still cut off from the outside world due to heavy snow.
11.45am: Aucklanders are eagerly anticipating the possibility of snow in the northern parts of the city as Manukau Police confirm dustings of snow have fallen in South Counties Manukau. The Waitakere Ranges has also received a light coating on Scenic Drive near the TV Tower.
11.40am: Snowflakes are falling in areas which rarely receive it, including Cambridge, Rotorua and Takapau in the Hawke's Bay area.
The latest situation at 11.35am: Snow has now reached into the Waikato, covered the Beehive in Wellington and inundated the Canterbury and Southland regions as the fierce wintry storm continues to rage. There are also claims of snow falling in South Auckland as the menacing front moves northward. Christchurch's Port Hills and Banks Peninsula have borne the brunt of the storm in the Canterbury region, and around five hundred residents are still without power in Sumner, around Hills Road in Shirley, near Leeston and on the Banks Peninsula.
11.25am: Emergency services are on standby in the Capital as snow begins falling again, covering Wellington with the heaviest snowfall in decades. Bitterly cold conditions are forecast to continue through to midweek, with more snow today and tomorrow. Wellington Free Ambulance say they are prepared, with a four-wheel drive and high angle rescue team on standby.
11.22am: There are claims of light snowfall in south Auckland, including Drury, Pukekohe, Waiuku and Clevedon Hills, but MetService has not yet confirmed this.
11.20am: High winds and snow have caused trees and branches to tear down overhead lines, causing power cuts affecting around 6000 customers across the lower North Island overnight and this morning.
11.17am: The seriously inclement weather is forcing delays in mail delivery around the country. There will be no deliveries in the lower South Island or Canterbury, a number of areas throughout Wellington, Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, Taranaki, and Wairarapa.
11.12am: Snow is creeping closer to Auckland, with reports of snow falling on the Clevedon Hills, south of the city.
11.10am: Hundreds of residents are still without power in Christchurch. The area around Hills Road in Shirley is the latest hit with parts of Sumner, Springston and Banks Peninsula also without power. Major disruptions are still affecting Christchurch Airport, and there have been no domestic flights in or out of the airport this morning. More than a hundred people are at the airport waiting for flights.
11.05am: The savagely arctic conditions lashing the country are forecast to continue until at least Wednesday, Metservice says. There will be significant snowfalls for southern and eastern parts of the South Island, as well as southern and central parts of the North Island. However, snowfalls should ease on Wednesday and are unlikely to continue down to sea level.
10.57am: MetService reports that from midday to midnight tonight, snow showers are expected to bring 15 to 25cm to the Desert Road. A few snow flurries are expected overnight, and snow is expected to set in from mid afternoon on Tuesday.
10.50am:Snow had fallen in Wanganui for the first time since 1974.
10.40am: Court cases in parts of the South Island have been adjourned due to the snow.
10.32am: The capital is experiencing its heaviest snow storm in decades, with many waking up to white lawns and icy roads. The weather is clearing for now, but more snow is forecast for later today and tomorrow. There will be no mail deliveries today for parts of the East Coast and Central North Island.
10.28am: A bankruptcy application against Wellington Phoenix owner Terry Serepisos has been adjourned due to heavy snow falling in the capital.
10.25am: There will be no mail deliveries today for most of the South Island. Meanwhile, in the North island, a bizarre snowfall has arrived in the Waikato, falling lightly in Tokoroa. Snow is also falling in the Kaimai Ranges.
10.20am: St John in Auckland is reporting a busy morning. Ambulance officers have treated four people this morning, and transported them to Middlemore Hospital after a tree fell on their home at Pakuranga Heights.
10.15am: MetService says snow and ice affecting most of Southland is likely to continue for at least another 24 hours. A new severe weather warning has been issued, which forecasts a further 15-25cm of snow to accumulate in Fiordland and Southland above 200m and 5-10cm to near sea level. The forecast is for snow to ease later on Tuesday. Road conditions are likely to remain a problem all over Southland.
10.10am: SH2 between Waipukurau and Dannevirke has been re-opened and SH5 between Napier and Taupo is now open, as well.
The latest situation at 10.05am: Snow and icy conditions in the last 48 hours have closed roads and disrupted services in many parts of the South Island. Numerous schools in the Canterbury area have been closed and the extreme weather has resulted in the temporary closure of the Christchurch, Rangiora, Ashburton, Dunedin, Queenstown and Balclutha District Courts. The High Court at Christchurch is also closed. Urgent High Court matters will be filed at the Wellington High Court. Police are asking all drivers to take extra care with the current cold snap upon us. Drivers need to reduce their speed and increase their following distances and drive with headlights on. Around 4000 customers across the lower North Island are without power.
9.55am: A power outage in southern Southland has affected an area from Fortrose to Waikawa.
9.52am: Christchurch Airport is open,
despite 8mm of snow covering the full length of the main
All aircraft movements remain at the discretion of the airlines, and there have been no domestic flights out. Passengers should check with their airlines before commencing travel.
9.45am: Most of Canterbury's health services are running as normal. All outpatient services and elective surgeries are still being held, and the majority of Christchurch's GPs are open. Christchurch police are urging people to stay at home if they can today. There's a blanket of snow over the city - up to 10 centimetres in some places and still falling
9.40am: Police in the Western Bay of Plenty are asking people to avoid any unnecessary travel throughout the area.
9.34am: MetService says the polar blast will hit Auckland around midday. The snow level is expected to lower over the Far North to 500 metres, including Northland.
9.30am: Close Up is on the lookout for your fun and wacky snow videos. Send them to email@example.com and the best will be played on the show tonight.
9.22am: Orion is working to restore power to hundreds of homes on the Banks Peninsula, around Leeston and in Sumner. Christchurch and central Canterbury residents are urged to keep off the roads as much as possible today to allow crews to get to jobs safely and quickly restore power.
9.16am: Weather analyst Richard Green is predicting the snow fall in Christchurch will be worse than the record 1992 storm, with more to come. Blizzard conditions are expected on the Port Hills and Banks Peninsula.
9.06am: Auckland has been struggling with issues ranging from powerlines down and trees fallen across roads. Snow has reached the East Coast of the North Island, and SH2 south of Gisborne has been closed due to snow and ice over the Wharerata Ranges.
8.57am: MetService says the storm is going to get worse. Snow has closed roads, cut power to Sumner, Leeston and Banks Peninsula, and damaged homes in Christchurch. More than a hundred Christchurch schools are now closed.
8.50am: Snow is blanketing suburbs in Wellington, and has been falling to sea level in the city centre.
8.45am: Lyttelton is officially cut off - with all roads in and out of the town closed.
8.38am: A yacht has broken loose from its mooring in the Tamaki estuary and washed up on Bucklands Beach. So far it appears to be the only casualty of gale force winds in Auckland.
8.32am: A blizzard has hit Timaru and Ashburton this morning, and is on its way to Christchurch.
8.12am: The number of closed schools in Christchurch has increased. The following schools are now closed: Christchurch Boys High; Chriscturch Girls High; Burnside High; Papanui High; Mairehau High School; Cashmere High;Villa Maria; St Bede's College; St Thomas of Canterbury College; Hillmorton High
8.08am: In Christchurch, Christchurch Boys' High School, Burnside High School and Papanui High are closed.
8.02am: The University of Otago remains open.
7.55am: Many roads are closed across the country. The situation on State Highways is due to be reassessed at 10am.
7.50am: ONE News reporter John McDermott said it is currently 2 degree Celsius in Dunedin.
The latest situation at 7.45am:
Gale force winds, cold temperatures, snow and ice are expected over the next three days. Snow has been falling from Southland to Taranaki overnight and it is expected to continue today.
Snow showers predicted as far north as Kerikeri and even Kaitaia.
Motorists are advised to make sure they will be able to finish their journey before leaving, and drive to the conditions.
Daniel Corbett from MetService told TV ONE's Breakfast the worst of the storm may still be to come.
7.40am: Lincoln University will be closed today due to the weather conditions.
7.30am: A number of inner-city roads in Dunedin have been closed and the northern motorway has also been closed.
7.20am: The Fire Service has received weather related calls from Auckland residents since 6am.
7.10am: Southland roads are in a treacherous state and people are being advised to stay home and avoid all non-essential travel this morning.
7.05am: Daniel Corbett from MetService has told TV ONE's Breakfast the worst of the storm may still be to come.