Road users are being urged to take extreme care as icy conditions take hold as the coldest snap of the year hits Otago this morning.
Queenstown Lakes District Council said “Jack Frost has been working his mischief” and there was a high chance of ice across roads in the district.
Black ice had been reported in the Cardrona Valley and over the Lindis Pass and ice on the Crown Range, which had been gritted.
Grit trucks had been busy across the rest of the district and had gritted roads from Arrowtown through to Queenstown, up Fernhill and on Glenorchy Rd.
Ice was also likely from Frankton out to Kelvin Heights.
NZTA has issued a caution notice for black ice on SH8 between Tarras and Omarama.
A Central Otago District Council update said rain snow showers overnight meant wet roads across the network and temperatures were sitting between -1degC and -4degC in the district as of 6.30am this morning.
There was a high risk of ice across the district, particularly in the Maniototo region.
“This risk will increase around day break as temperatures drop further.
“Caution is advised particularly on damp areas, bridge decks, hill sections and shaded areas.”
MetService said yesterday the coldest snap of the year to date was due to hit the South overnight.
MetService meteorologist Peter Little said today temperatures in the far south have already plummeted, and more snow is falling on the alpine passes overnight.
“There has been some more snow on the Crown Range Rd and near the Homer Tunnel on the Milford Rd.”
Road snow warnings remain in place for Lewis Pass (SH7), Arthurs Pass (SH73), Crown Range Rd and Milford Rd (SH94).
Alexandra was sitting at a crisp -2.4C at 5.30am under clear skies, and Gore and Invercargill were at 4C with heavy showers and brutal southwesterlies.
Invercargill and Dunedin are in for a day of sleety showers and highs of 7C and 8C respectively. Most of the South Island will spend the day in the low teens.
“The far south can expect more snow today to 300m in Southland, so a pretty cold day,” Little said.
“A taste of winter.”
The temperature was forecast to drop to -3degC in Central Otago. Snow has fallen to 300m above sea level.
Queenstown sits at 310m above sea level; Wanaka at 281m.
MetService meteorologist April Clark said snow showers down to 300m would continue this morning, but the weather was expected to clear this afternoon.
The showers would ease and the day would become fine with high cloud and strong, cold winds.
”Wind chill will be a factor. It’s going to feel pretty blustery and cold.
”This is the first cold outbreak of the season. It’s going to bring the lowest snow that we’ve seen so far.
”It’s time to bring out your winter clothes.”
The wintry blast came as part of an active front which moved over the South Island yesterday, bringing heavy rain, hail, thunderstorms and strong northwesterlies to parts of the region.
It snowed heavily on the Crown Range, and State Highway 8 from Omarama to Cromwell (Lindis Pass), and State Highway 6 from Cromwell to Makarora were both under caution because of surface flooding at various locations.
There was also surface flooding in parts of Wanaka yesterday.
The Milford road (SH94) closed overnight because of snow. The road was likely to reopen by 10am today but significant snow was forecast for the area tomorrow, which could mean an all-day closure.
Snow showers were likely to continue on the Crown Range today but Dunedin’s Northern Motorway is unlikely to be affected by snow this morning.
Ms Clark said tomorrow was expected to bring periods of rain, heavy at times, and possibly more snow down to 500m, especially about coastal Southland.
The weather was forecast to be drier for Otago tomorrow.
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