Polar blast set to strike South Island, heavy snow possible

Mon, Mar 27
The Crown Range Rd could be hit by heavy snow this week (file image).

The lower South Island is set to be hit by a polar blast overnight with the possibility of heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures for parts of Central Otago and the Southern Lakes.

MetService say a front is forecast to move onto the lower South Island tonight, preceded by a strong and moist northwest flow. As the front moves north through the centre of the country it will change to cold, gale force southerlies.

A heavy snow watch has been issued for the Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago for 12 hours from midnight tonight until midday tomorrow. Snow is expected to lower to 500 metres, while heavy snow is possible above 700 metres and may approach warning amounts. A significant snowfall could have the potential to close the Crown Range Rd between Queenstown and Wānaka.

A heavy rain watch has also been issued for Southland and Fiordland starting from 6pm this evening until midday tomorrow.

Temperatures around the deep south are set to plummet too. Alexandra, which just a week ago enjoyed a 25 degree day, is likely to see the mercury drop to below zero degrees on Wednesday morning.

Likewise, Queenstown, Wānaka and Invercargill are expected to wake to brisk conditions on Wednesday, with temperatures in all three towns expected to be hovering at just one or two degrees.

As the front moves further up the country, Canterbury, Wellington and Marlborough could be hit by cold winds approaching severe gales in exposed places on Tuesday.