September 7, 2016

Although we’re already into the second week of spring, during the next few days it will feel like we’ve plunged back into winter. A cold front will race up the country today and early Thursday, bringing a period of bitterly cold southerly gales which are expected to be severe in some eastern areas, including Wellington.

MetService Meteorologist Peter Little commented, “The cold southerly wind following this front is expected to arrive with a bang.  This type of abrupt southerly change could also produce thunderstorms and hail, and is commonly known as a southerly buster.”


The front may run up the country but the strong cold southerly winds stick around through Thursday, increasing wind chill which is a concern for vulnerable livestock. These severe southerly gales and cold temperatures will also bring snow showers down to 200 metres in southern parts and 100 metres in eastern parts of the South Island, and to around 300 metres over the southern half of the North Island. This combination of snow and strong winds could produce blizzard-like conditions about the hills and ranges, especially over the lower South Island, which can cause poor visibility and snow drifts.

“Both the Crown Range Road and Milford Road have already seen snow this morning, and several more South Island roads will likely be affected by snowfall later today.  The North Island doesn’t escape this wintry blast either, with a Warning for Heavy Snow in place for the central North Island, including the Desert Road, during Thursday,” added Mr Little.

These southerly gales will also whip up large waves in the New Zealand region.  Mr Little went on to say, “Heavy swells of 5 to 6 metres or more are forecast to affect many coastlines during this event, including eastern coasts of the South Island right up to Wellington.  These swells combined with gale force winds will make for dangerous coastal conditions and could cause erosion in some places.”

Official Severe Weather Watches and Warnings are reviewed and re-issued by MetService at least every twelve hours, and more often if necessary. To get the most up to date information on severe weather around the country, or any other forecasts, see or on mobile devices at You can also follow our updates on MetService TV, at MetService New Zealand on Facebook, @metservice and @MetServiceWARN on Twitter and at


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. They are 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. They are issued only when required.
Recommendation: BE READY 

Outlooks are about looking ahead, providing advance information on possible future Watches and/or Warnings. They are issued routinely once or twice a day.
Recommendation: PLAN

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