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Weather: Wintry snap poised to hit the country, road snowfall warning issued for South Island

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Parts of the country could be in for the coldest weekend of the year, as a wintry blast of polar air is poised to hit the country.

A road snowfall warning has been issued for the South Island alpine pass, Porters Pass, while heavy rain is forecast to hit western parts of the North Island.

Metservice meteorologist Clare O’Connor said New Zealanders should prepare for below-average temperatures across the board.

“The South Island will really feel the cold overnight into Saturday, whereas the North Island will be slightly delayed, hitting overnight into Sunday,” she said.

Niwa forecaster Ben Noll earlier told the Herald a mass of cooler air was due to move up the South Island on Tuesday and Wednesday before a larger flow hits northward at the end of the week.

Parts of the country could be in for the coldest weekend of the year, as a wintry blast of polar air is poised to hit the country. Photo / Metservice
Parts of the country could be in for the coldest weekend of the year, as a wintry blast of polar air is poised to hit the country. Photo / Metservice

“That’s the one I think most people are going to feel, as it’s going to progress up the whole country – and some temperatures will seem closer to late autumn,” Noll said.

Road Snowfall Warning

Metservice issued a road snowfall warning for Porters Pass (SH73) from 2:00 pm to 9:00 pm on Friday.

“We’re talking about snow falling above 800m in the Canterbury high country area from the Mackenzie Basin to North Canterbury,” O’Connor said.

She said a few centimetres could fall, but little if any is likely to settle on the road.

“The road temperatures are still fairly warm at this time of year, so it will just melt on the road whereas when we get into winter where the temperatures are colder all the time, that allows things to hang around a lot longer.”

North Island Rain

Meanwhile, the North Island is under no exception for the cold, with western parts of the North Island in for a wet, wintry weekend.

“Tomorrow morning, eastern Waikato, including Northern Taranaki and right over Taupō, is looking very wet on Friday,” O’Connor said.

“We don’t have any watches or warnings out, and we’re not currently expecting it to be impactful, but it is going to be wet for those parts of the North Island.”

O’Connor said around the time the rain disappears, temperatures will drop and everybody will be “a bit chilly.”

Temperatures across the country

Metservice told the Herald it’s expected to be the coldest weekend of the year for Auckland, with Saturday forecast to be the coldest day of the year for the region.

“Auckland’s maximum temperatures have been above 20C for most of the year, and this weekend we are looking at 19C for the first time.”

Meanwhile, the Central Otago town of Alexandra will be the chillest spot in the country with a brisk 2C forecast overnight Friday.

Niwa earlier told the Herald that, on Saturday, temperatures in southern centres – including Invercargill, Dunedin, Queenstown, and Christchurch – were forecast to reach only the mid-teens.

“Even in a place like Auckland, you might be struggling to get to 20°C on Saturday,” Noll said.



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