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Severe weather eases, wintery weather arrives - 24 May 2018

MetService News Release

24 May 2018

It’s not winter yet, but nature doesn’t follow a calendar. Snow has fallen to low levels, with Queenstown experiencing a dusting and several mountain roads closed due to the inclement weather. This wintery blast is due to persistent southerly winds bringing cold, polar air over New Zealand cooling temperatures, and helping to lower the snow level, reaching our higher roads.

A number of Severe Weather Warnings and Watches for rain, wind and snow are in place, along with a significant risk of thunderstorms for today and tomorrow as this cold weather continues. A front moving up the country today will bring wet and windy weather to exposed places in the North Island overnight and into tomorrow. In addition, large swell from the southwest is also expected for western coasts.

MetService Meteorologist Tui McInnes says: “The cold airmass with this front is helping to support thunderstorm activity, which means isolated thunderstorms across western areas, particularly for the central North Island where there is a Watch for Severe Thunderstorms in place.

“In these thunderstorms Waikato and Waitomo could see heavy rain of up to 25mm/hr, so it is a good idea to check that drains and gutters are clear.”

“We are in a situation where a number of fronts push over the country from the south through the weekend, each of which will bring a period of showers or rain depending on where in the country you are, with snow possible to 700m for parts of the South Island,” he adds.

In summary, the weekend will be cold with unsettled weather for many although some areas will see settled conditions during Sunday afternoon as a high pressure makes its presence felt across the country. This high pressure will bring cold nights.

With weather this changeable and potentially severe for some areas, it is always important to check the latest forecast before heading outdoors. With the first major signs of winter here, “it is time to stoke the fire or turn on the heaters,” says McInnes.

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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