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First dusting of the year

The start of a cold snap was marked yesterday by snow falling on the Tararua Range for the first time this year.

Metservice has forecast temperatures in Masterton to drop as low as 3 degrees Celsius today.

It said today will start with morning clouds and the chance of a shower, before clearing and becoming fine, with temperatures reaching 15degC.

Tomorrow [Sunday] is set to be slightly warmer with a low of 6degC and a high of 17degC.

Metservice said snow, thunderstorms, and cold west-to-southwest gales had affected parts of the nation on Wednesday and Thursday morning, but it has now forecast relatively settled weather for the weekend with no severe weather expected.

It said the persistent feed of warm northerly winds and sub-tropical moisture that brought flooding to northern and western parts of Aotearoa has finally been ushered away from our shores.

Metservice meteorologist Peter Little said the east of the country from Bay of Plenty to Marlborough is expected to have mostly fine weather on Mothers’ Day, while a few showers are forecast elsewhere.

“Although cold temperatures should have returned to normal, if you’ve got outdoor plans with Mum on Sunday, you may need to take a coat or umbrella,” Little said.

With the winter months approaching after the wettest summer on record, Niwa meteorologist Chris Brandolino told Radio New Zealand there is likely to be more south-westerly winds and more frequent cold snaps than there were in the past three winters, which were unusually temperate.

“Even if we have a normally cold winter, as it were, it’ll probably be somewhat of a shock given the recent winters have been so darn warm,” he said.

However, the seasonal climate outlook for May to July from National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research [Niwa] reckons temperatures are most likely to be above average or near average in the east of the North Island and the east of the South Island.

Niwa said rainfall is likely to be normal in the east of the North Island for the next three months.

As for long-term snow trends, a Niwa report on the climate and weather of the Wellington region said snow is relatively frequent during winter in the Remutaka and Tararua Ranges.

It said the Remutaka Hill sometimes closes because of heavy snow and icy conditions, one of the only roads in the region to close because of snow.

“However, no high elevation sites in the Wellington region have long enough records to enable calculation of average snow days.”

The report said when snow does fall on lowland areas, it is usually associated with a deep depression just to the east of the region, together with a very cold south-to-southwest airstream over much of New Zealand.

Grace Prior
Grace Prior
Grace Prior is a senior reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with a keen interest in environmental issues. Grace is the paper’s health reporter and regularly covers the rural sector, weather, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and coastal stories.

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