July 18, 2019

Snow storm causes chaos in New Zealand

Wellington's 'Beehive' Parliament building gets the snow storm treatment.

The snow storm that has gripped New Zealand for three days is set to continue for some time yet.

Many schools in Wellington and the South Island have been closed. Airports and roads have also been badly affected. Power outages have become commonplace.

“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.

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.

Police have warned of treacherous driving conditions as the snow on the roads turns to ice.

THe hill suburbs of the cities of Wellington and Dunedin have been badly hit, with snow and ice making travel treacherous.

Flight disruptions continue, with Christchurch and Queenstown airports closed this morning, and two early flights out of Dunedin airport cancelled.

Around 1000 Christchurch homes are without power this morning. About 420 homes remained without power in Upper Hutt, north of Wellington. Powerco reports that 350 homes are without power in South Taranaki, Whanganui, Manawatu and Wairarapa.

It has been 34 years since snow settled in central Auckland and Wellington.

The South Island resort town of 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 tyre chains.

Workers struggle to get Christchurch Airport reopened.