Hail and westerlies usher in spring
Spring westerlies have been blowing the last few days, with rain, thunderstorms and snow affecting most parts of the country.
The weekend saw its fair share of thunderstorms, especially in the western areas of both Islands.
In the last 24 hours, Westland and Fiordland got the brunt of the thunderstorms in the South Island, while Auckland and Northland had the most in the North Island. The total number of lightning strikes for New Zealand and surrounding coastal waters was 2605 from midnight Friday to midday today.
In true spring-like conditions, parts of the country sheltered from the westerlies would have seen a fine day. The likes of Wellington experienced relatively dry weather, while New Plymouth which staged the All Blacks versus Argentina rugby game on Saturday night saw 8.4 mm of rain on Saturday. This just shows the typical nature of spring.
“Some areas had a relatively fine day, like in the capital yesterday, but anyone in Auckland would have experienced some wet and windy weather,” says MetService meteorologist Kyle Lee.
As freezing levels dropped towards the end of the week, road snow warnings were sent for many of the North Island and South Island roads. Snowfall was recorded down to 500 metres in Southland and central Otago overnight, and to 700 metres in the Canterbury high country over the last couple days. Significant snowfall affected the Desert Road down to 700 metres overnight last night closing the road this morning.
Although this is bad news for anyone using these roads this weekend, the ski fields around the country would have welcomed the news as most saw a nice dump of fresh snow.
“The Ruapehu ski fields, recorded up to 40 cm overnight Friday, and the likes of Cardrona in the South Island recorded 25 cm overnight last night.”
There is a slight reprieve from the westerlies though, as a weak ridge builds over the country on Monday and Tuesday. Areas not exposed to the southwest will experience the best of the break, while the far south unfortunately won’t see much of the settled weather before the westerlies are expected to kick back in from Wednesday.
Hail showered Mount Maunganui on Sunday. Photos: Tracy Hardy.