Snowfall warnings as severe ‘winter blast’ bears down on New Zealand – Stuff

Posted: May 21, 2022 at 7:06 pm

The country has begun to feel the early impacts of MetServices predicted winter blast, expected to hit west of the South Island, Northland and eastern Bay of Plenty.

MetService meteorologist Ashlee Parkes said the west coast and South Island were expected to be hit hardest, heavy rainfall had already been felt in Fiordland as one station measured 146.5mm in the last 24 hours.

Milford Sound airport has seen 93mm of rainfall in the same timespan.


George Empson took this shot early Thursday in the Mackenzie Country.

There was also a high risk of thunderstorms in Westland and Fiordland on Thursday, with 912 lightning strikes being recorded in concentrated areas of both regions in two hours alone.

READ MORE:* Weather watches for Canterbury High Country* Weather warnings in place for Southland * Winter blast: MetService forecasts 'dangerous' waves, severe gales, rain and snow

Ricky Wilson/Stuff

MetService meteorologist Ashlee Parkes said the west coast and South Island were expected to be hit hardest.

Other South Island regions were also feeling the rainfall on Thursday morning, with Haast Pass having 47.2mm of rain and Franz Joseph seeing 35.4mm.

Parkes said the numbers were likely to increase as the day continues.

Heavy rain warnings were issued by MetService on Wednesday for the eastern Bay of Plenty, Northland and the western South Island.

The eastern Bay of Plenty past ptiki was expected to accumulate between 70 and 100mm of rainfall until 8pm on Thursday.

Canterbury high country was on strong wind watch, as were regions surrounding Otago, Wellington, Marlborough Sounds and Wairarapa.

Meanwhile, the Crown Range Road and State Highway 94, Milford Road had been issued road snowfall warnings.


Crown Range Rd and State Highway 94, Milford Rd have been issued road snowfall warnings. Photo shows when heavy snowfall hit Milford Rd in May last year.

A warning was also in place for the Desert Rd, with showers expected to turn to snow from 7pm Friday until 1am Saturday.

The strongest winds at the moment are through central Otago. It will be a busy week of weather, as well as the weekend, said Parkes.

After a rough night of wind and heavy rain at Lake Takap/Tekapo, photographer George Empson was out early on Thursday taking shots of the sky as the weather and clouds whirled around the area.


The strong westerly blows snow off the ridges in the South Island.

Empson, a long-time Mackenzie resident, said there were westerly fronts running across the sky.

For a short time the sky is angry then clears, Empson said.

I could see to the deep south of the basin, and it looks clear. Snow showers are also running across the ranges, but normally they do not come too much from the west.


The storm rolls over photographer George Empson.

If it changes to the south we might get some decent snow out of that, maybe.

There was some fresh snow on the ranges, but the westerly was blowing it off the ridges, he said.

Another MetService meteorologist, Angus Hines said people would have to be very careful if they were near the coast in the next few days.

It is not unprecedented wave heights, there is nothing coming that we haven't seen before, but it is right at the upper end of what size waves have hit these western coastlines, he said.

The largest waves will be out over slightly deeper water, just a little bit away from the country, but the waves that do reach the coast will be around 5m or 6m, something of that kind of scale, and potentially very damaging.

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Snowfall warnings as severe 'winter blast' bears down on New Zealand - Stuff

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