Families, schools and businesses will face more disruption today as snow causes transport chaos and power outages.
“There is some way to go here before it is all over,” MetService chief forecaster Peter Kreft said, advising that the strong, bitterly cold southerly flow was not expected to ease until Thursday.
“The maximum temperature is creeping up about a degree per day between the end of the day until the end of the week.” Unlike the last Antarctic blast that brought snow to much of the country on July 25, this event would not be over quickly, he warned.
Forecasters were keeping an eye on a large patch of snow clouds spinning around the storm system east of the South Island that was expected to push back on to Canterbury this morning.
The storm is leaving in its wake communities cut off by hazardous roads, stranded travellers, businesses facing staff absences, and parents forced to stay at home with their children because of school closures.
Many state highways around New Zealand are this morning closed, including the Desert Road and Rimutaka Hill road in the North Island and the Lewis Pass and Arthurs Pass in the South Island.
For a list of closed roads, airports, schools and hospitals click here.” href=”http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/5449752/Snow-What-You-Need-To-Know” target=”_blank”>> For a list of closed roads, airports, schools and hospitals click here.
Police have warned of treacherous driving conditions as the snow that blanketed New Zealand yesterday will turn to ice.
Flight disruptions continue, with Christchurch and Queenstown airports closed this morning, and two early flights out of Dunedin airport cancelled.
Power is out to 420 homes in Upper Hutt. About 2000 homes in South Taranaki, Whanganui, Manawatu and Wairarapa were without power last night. About 1000 of the homes were expected to have electricity restored by last night. Some houses are without power this morning in Lincoln, Dunsandel and Rakaia, Canterbury.
Residents in the lower North Island are being warned that more power cuts are expected today.
The Education Ministry said many schools and early childhood centres closed yesterday because of the snow, and it was up to individual schools to decide whether to open today.
Snow fell in Auckland yesterday and Wellington streets were turned white for the first time in nearly half a century.
National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research scientist James Renwick said the last reports of snow settling in downtown Wellington were recorded in 1976, when snow also fell in Auckland. Before that, the last reports were in the 1930s.
Queenstown has been largely cut off from the rest of the country. No flights have left Queenstown Airport since Sunday and all roads into Queenstown and the Wakatipu Basin are either closed or require tire chains.
Queenstown weatherman David Crow, who has been monitoring weather in the resort town since 1962, said he could not recall a more vicious and prolonged snowstorm. “I can’t remember anything as heavy as this in 58 years.”
Yesterday, the warmest temperature was recorded in the Bay of Islands, where the mercury topped 12 degrees Celsius. The lowest daytime temperature was at Lake Rotoiti at St Arnaud, where temperatures fell to -2C.
Wellington Civil Defence manager Rian Van Schalkwyk urged people to stock up on essential supplies and be ready to be stuck inside their homes for a couple of days. “People should prepare for the worst, which means making sure they’re ready in the event that they cannot leave home and may be without electricity and other amenities.”
Loud thunder and lightning strikes hit the Wellington region last night and power tripped out regularly. Wellington Energy spokesman Drew Douglas said the company was “in a heightened level of preparedness”.
Electricity demand soared yesterday, exceeding that of July 25 when a similar Antarctic blast saw much of New Zealand come to a standstill. Demand peaked at 6500 megawatts at 9am on Monday, about 500MW more than for the same day last year.
The storm will also have a widespread impact on New Zealand’s economy with conditions affecting businesses in both town and country.
In Taranaki, 600 dairy farmers will have to dump milk after Fonterra decided snow-covered roads were too dangerous for its tankers yesterday.
Fonterra staff were working with farmers on disposal methods but the company did not know how much milk was involved, a company spokesperson said. Farmers would still be paid.
Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce chief executive Ken Harris said businesses would be counting the cost of the disruptions, and for some it would be a significant expense. “Staff absenteeism is up, and there are higher heating costs. It definitely has an economic impact.”
Monday August 15th, 2011
August 15th, 2011
8 + 15 +2+0+1+1 = 27 =Snow fell in Auckland yesterday and Wellington streets were turned white for the first time in nearly half a century.
27 + 8 (August) = 35 = Warning sign.
35 + 15 (15th of the month on Monday August 15th, 2011) = 50 = Climate change.
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