Weather: Heavy snow warnings issued for parts of the North Island

Winter’s last kiss is set to strike the North Island today – with heavy snow warnings issued for parts of the country usually linked to hot summer holidays.

A heavy snow warning is in place for Gisborne, with the warning officially being categorised as an “orange” alert by the local district council.

“Heavy snow may disrupt travel in affected areas and could damage trees and powerlines,” the Gisborne District Council said early this morning.

The warning is due to affect Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne south of the city from early this morning and to at least 10pm.

Locals are told that snow is possible down to 200m and may become heavy about 500m where 15cm to 20cm of snow is expected to accumulate.

The MetService says heavy snow and severe gales are forecast for parts of central and northern parts of the country today.

A low weather system was due to move over the central part of New Zealand overnight and will do early this morning.

“This low continues to bring heavy snow to low levels and severe gale southerlies across the central and northern districts of the country,” MetService said last night.

The heaviest snowfalls are due to be in northern Canterbury and southern Marlborough above 200m.

Central and southern parts of the North Island might be surprised to hear about heavy snow due their way too.

Weather authorities are telling people in those areas to keep a close eye on official weather updates throughout the day as a result.

Aucklanders are waking up to a day of rain – with the forecast showing showers, some heavy, throughout the day. There is also the possibility of hail.

A temperature high of 8.7C is expected and strong, cold southwesterly winds – with gales in exposed parts of the city – are on the cards too.

Those conditions are not expected to ease back until this evening and an overnight low of 5C will mean for an extra blanket or two tonight.

Severe weather warnings – heavy snow and strong winds

The MetService has issued a number of severe weather warnings and watches around the country.

People are warned that heavy snow may disrupt travel in affected areas and could damage trees and powerlines. Cold conditions may cause stress for livestock.

A heavy snow warning is in place for Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne, south of the city. The warning officially started at 1am and is not due to lift until 10pm.

“Snow is possible down to 200m and may become heavy above about 500m where 15cm to 20cm of snow is expected to accumulate.”

A heavy snow warning is also in place for Taihape and the northern hill country of Whanganui until at least 11pm.

Weather authorities say snow is forecast to low levels around the central North Island high country and is set to become heavy above about 500m – where 20cm to 30cm of snow is expected to accumulate.

People travelling in the area are told: “Snow showers down to 400m are likely to continue through to Monday evening affecting the Desert Road.”

Other areas affected by the heavy snow warning are Wairarapa – including the Tararua District and the Tararua and Remutaka ranges.

An early warning for Marlborough, south of Seddon, and Canterbury north of the Rākaia River (not including Christchurch and Banks Peninsula) lifted at 6am.

Strong wind warnings have been announced for Wairarapa, including the Tararua District, until 1pm.

Locals are advised that southerly gales are expected to be severe – with gusts reaching up to 120km/h, especially in exposed coastal areas. Winds are, however, expected to slowly ease this morning.

Those in Wellington and coastal Marlborough – north of Ward, including the Sounds – are told that south to southeast gales are on the cards in exposed parts.

Those winds are also due to be very strong, with 120km/h gusts forecast. The warning is not expected to lift until about 11am.

Road snowfall warnings

Those travelling on the roads today are told to check the weather conditions beforehand and throughout the day, as snow will affect some main routes.

The MetService also encourages motorists to keep up-to-date with the road snowfall warnings on its website.

Roads due to be affected by heavy snowfall include the Napier-Taupō Road (State Highway 5), Desert Road (SH1), Remutaka Hill Road (SH2), Lewis Pass (SH7), Porters Pass (SH73), Crown Range Road, Milford Road (SH94) and the Dunedin to Waitati Highway (SH1).

A warning on Arthur’s Pass (SH73) was set to be lifted by 4am today, with MetService saying only “a flurry or two” may affect the road early this morning.

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