Major winter storm

June 18, 2015

The weather pattern currently moving across New Zealand bears the hallmarks of a major winter storm and is forecast to bring heavy rain on the West Coast of the South Island, strong gusty winds and significant amounts of snow to parts of Otago, Canterbury and Southland.

Severe Weather Warnings are already in place for many areas of the South Island with Central Otago and South Canterbury forecast to be hardest hit by snow while the ranges of Westland and Fiordland are set to receive the heaviest rainfall.

“The combination of the large amount of moisture feeding across the South Island from the west colliding with cold air in the east creates the potential for heavy snowfalls” explained MetService Meteorologist John Law. Current warnings indicate that 20 to 25cm of snow is likely above 200 metres for Otago and similar amounts possible in South Canterbury. At higher elevations, more than one metre of snow may accumulate above 700 metres.

This amount of snowfall is likely to cause major disruption to transport through these areas, with the potential to damage trees and bring down powerlines. For the latest information on the highways head to and for Civil Defence advice ahead of a storm see

As well as the wet and snowy weather down south, stronger winds are set to make it a blustery day through central parts of the country for Marlborough, Wellington and Wairarapa. MetService meteorologists are also closely monitoring the potential for significant heavy rain in the lower North Island overnight tonight and into Friday.

Over the weekend the area of low pressure responsible for this weather will move to the southeast of the country. As the system pulls away a burst of heavy rain will sweep across the North Island, with fresh snow about Mt Ruapehu and possibly the Desert Road.

Keep up to date with the latest forecasts and any watches/warnings at or on mobile devices at You can also follow our updates on MetService TV, at MetService New Zealand on Facebook@metservice on Twitter and at

For further information please contact:
John Law Meteorologist (04)4700 754

MetService issues Warnings, Watches and Outlooks for severe weather over New Zealand.
Warnings are about taking action:
* When severe weather is imminent or is occurring
* Issued only when required
* Recommendation: ACT
Watches are about being alert:
* When severe weather is possible, but not sufficiently imminent or certain for a Warning to be issued
* Issued only when required
* Recommendation: BE READY
Outlooks are about looking ahead:
* To provide advance information on possible future Watches and/or Warnings
* Issued routinely once or twice a day
* Recommendation: PLAN

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