Heavy snow blankets New Zealand

Christchurch hit by a wintry blast

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    Snow often falls in New Zealand in winter, as seens here in Queenstown, but the recent storm caused may power outages [Getty]

    A storm has brought power cuts to thousands of homes across the South Island of New Zealand.

    In Christchurch, heavy snow has forced the closure of many schools and roads, and all Air New Zealand flights into and out of the city were cancelled.

    The small town of Hanmer Springs, to the northwest of Christchurch, was even worse hit; reportedly cut off by the heavy snow.

    The west coast, which escaped the worst of the snow, was hit by torrential rain instead. The resulting floods forced several homes to be evacuated.

    New Zealand’s severe weather was produced by the same system that brought flooding to Australia’s State of Victoria on 4 and 5 June.

    In New Zealand the storm caught some people by surprise. The day before, on Tuesday 5 June, the temperatures in Christchurch had risen to a pleasant 14C. However, it started to rain at 7pm local time, and the temperatures quickly dropped away.

    By 6am, the temperatures were just 1C, and heavy snow was being brought in on strong, icy winds.

    The snow has now cleared Christchurch, but a minimum temperature of -3C is expected on Wednesday night. This will insure that any standing water freezes.

    Over the next few nights, frost, snow and ice will continue to bring treacherous driving conditions to many parts of the South Island. Temperatures will climb above freezing during daylight hours, but drop below freezing again during the night.

    This will cause the lying snow to melt and refreeze, forming sheets of black ice.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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