Winter is coming warn weather forecasters

A snowfall warning has been issued for the Desert Road.

People can be forgiven if they have forgotten about winter this week with the warm, humid weather we have been having. But weather forecasters are warning of incoming winter weather this weekend.

MetService is warning of a cold outbreak spreading across New Zealand in the lead up to this weekend.

Temperatures will fall across the country as strong, cool southwesterly winds race north, spreading showers, thunderstorms, and snow into many areas.

Frosty mornings are likely inland, while dangerous waves lash many coastal regions.

Numerous Severe Weather Watches and Warnings are already in place as several cold fronts originating from the Southern Ocean spread heavy rain and gale force winds across southern and central Aotearoa New Zealand.

"The heaviest rain is forecast for the western South Island, with an Orange Heavy Rain Warning in place for Fiordland and Westland, and a Watch in place for Buller and the headwaters of the Canterbury lakes," says MetService Meteorologist Ashlee Parkes.

Alongside the heavy rain is a risk of thunderstorms for western and southern regions.

These thunderstorms also come with a risk of downpours, hail, and damaging winds.

"In the two hours leading up to 9.07am this (Thursday) morning, 1585 lightning strikes were recorded across our lightning network and is taster of what is to come.

"This cold outbreak is also bringing strong or possibly gale winds to central and southeastern Aotearoa, which will add to the chill in the air. We have Strong Wind Watches in place for Wellington, Wairarapa, Marlborough, the Canterbury High Country, as well as Otago and Southland."

Snow is forecast to relatively low levels for some regions of both the North and South Island.

"This will be the lowest snow many have seen so far this year.

"Snow is currently forecast to about 400 metres in Southland and Otago, but a bit higher farther north in Canterbury High Country, with a snow level of about 800 metres.

"Central and southern North Island regions may see some snow on the mountain tops, with snow forecast to around 1000 metres in those regions."

Road Snowfall Warnings are in place for multiple South Island alpine passes for both Thursday and Friday, as well the Desert Road.

The wild weather is not just forecast over the land. Large swell waves and dangerous coastal conditions are expected around much of the country.

Western coastal regions of both islands, including Auckland and Northland, could see combined waves of six metres on Friday and Saturday, with large waves spreading up the eastern South Island and into Wellington during Sunday.

"There is lots of stormy weather across Aotearoa over the coming days. We strongly recommend people keep up to date with the latest forecast on the MetService website."

While wet, cold and windy weather lashes New Zealand, our friends at the Fiji Meteorological Service have named Tropical Cyclone Gina this (Thursday) morning.

"It is currently swirling away to the east of Vanuatu and is expected to travel southwest over the next couple of days.

"While we normally think of the South Pacific Tropical Cyclone Season as running from November to April, if the right conditions exist, we can see Tropical Cyclones forming outside of the season. Current weather models keep Tropical Cyclone Gina to the north of NZ."

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