Residents of South Canterbury woke up Wednesday morning to a “surreal” snowfall.
In addition to snow reported in the normal inland areas of South Canterbury such as Fairlie and Twizel, waterfalls have also been reported closer to Timaru in the Hadlow and Taiko areas, along with the Geraldine, Orari and Rangitata.
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Gavin Oliver, Geraldine Ward Councilor of Timaru District Council, said it was snowing “a lot” in the area.
“It has a little more rain than at 6 a.m.,” he said at 8:30 a.m.
“It’s very exciting and from what I can see out my window there are some kids in the paddock making a snowman.
“Who would have thought we would wake up to this two days ago”
Geraldine resident Aroha Stewart said about 3.8 inches of snow had fallen overnight, but “it’s not too cold”.
Kerri Jopp, from Taiko, inland from Timaru, said it was “surreal” to wake up Tuesday to about 2 inches of snow after a hot afternoon.
All state highways through South Canterbury are open, but State Highway 8 is closed between Ōmārama and Tarras (Lindis Pass). Due to heavy snowfall, the closure is Wednesday morning until further notice.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, on their website, advised motorists to avoid the area or delay travel if possible.
MetService meteorologist Lewis Ferris said the sudden weather change is due to air traveling from Antarctica and moving north over land.
Ferris said South Canterbury can expect another day of cold temperatures with the risk of further snow to the interior.
Although Thursday looks set to be a nice day, Ferris said it will start with frost and temperatures are expected to remain cold.
“Most of the action is for South Canterbury today,” Ferris said.
Inland South Canterbury, as close to the coast as Geraldine, has a heavy snow watch from 9am to midnight.
The MetService website says spells of snow are expected Wednesday and snow accumulations could approach the alert criteria above about 400 meters.
MetService forecast for Aoraki/Mt Cook says snow will clear up to fair weather Wednesday morning with snow showers returning in the afternoon. Northwest changes to the south around noon.
The maximum temperature for Mt Cook on Wednesday will be 8 degrees Celsius and the lowest will be minus 8C.
At 9am the temperature was -1C (feels like -8C).
For Timaru, rain is expected to clear Wednesday morning, but showers will return in the afternoon before turning to snow as the southwest winds pick up strong.
The maximum temperature of Timaru is predicted to be 11C and the lowest -1C. At 9am the temperature was 3.7C (feels like 0C).