Thursday, October 8, 2009

'Very wet' cold snap coming as school holidays end

Another cold snap is forecast to hit the country this weekend with farmers and drivers being warned to take care.
The MetService has issued several severe weather warnings ahead of the snow storm, with heavy snow forecast to fall as low as 200 metres in Canterbury and Marlborough and 600m in the Central North Island tomorrow.
The timing was terrible with families returning home at the end of school holidays, head weather analyst Philip Duncan said.
Strong southerly winds on Saturday could create blizzards on the Desert Road and motorists should have alternate routes in mind in case of road closures, he said.
"We're advising motorists to be aware of the conditions before setting out as snow may close state highways in both islands during Friday and Saturday".
Conditions in the North Island were not forecast to be as bad as last Sunday when a snow storm closed State Highway 5 between Napier and Taupo, stranding hundreds of travellers.
However, conditions would be "very wet" and at higher altitudes "very snowy", Mr Duncan said.
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Like last week the weather was caused by a cold southerly moving up the South Island, while a large low pressure system crosses the North, he said.
The MetService has issued road snowfall warnings for Arthurs Pass, Porters Pass, Lewis Pass in the South Island and the Desert Road and Rimutaka Hill Road in the North.
The last cold snap wiped out hundreds of newborn lambs and farmers are being advised to consider moving stock to lower levels or sheltered areas this weekend.
Police are urging motorists to drive to the conditions and be prepared.
The end of the school holidays would see many travelling long distances home, Canterbury traffic manager Inspector Al Stewart said.
" Check the weather and road conditions before you leave so you can change your plans and route if necessary."
People should also check their vehicles had good tyres and a full tank.
"There are many roads and passes in our district which are quite remote and susceptible to snow and ice.
"There are often quite long distances between refuelling stations and places to get advice."
Mr Stewart urged divers to slow down when necessary, keep windows clear, not overtake in risky situations an d pull over to let faster vehicles past.
Drivers should get plenty of sleep and take regular breaks to combat fatigue, he said.
"Eat sensibly and ensure you remain hydrated, but avoid large meals as they can make you drowsy."

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