Dense dumpings of snow and big barrages of hail have lashed New Zealand’s South Island this week forcing many road closures as the nation’s Spring STILL refuses to show.
Many North Canterbury roads were turned white on Wednesday after heavy snow and hailstones buried the region known for its grassy plains, clear lakes and snow-capped mountains.
Although forecasters had warned of snow, hail and thunderstorms for the middle part of this week, the magnitude of the flurries took many by surprise.
The snow was substantial enough to close sections of the Lewis Pass, which connects Canterbury to the West Coast — state Highway 7 was closed just before 6pm. While State Highway 94 was closed throughout Wednesday and is expected to remain closed for most of Thursday.
Other areas affected by snow and ice are Arthur’s Pass, Porters Pass, Haast Pass, Lindis Pass, Crown Range Road, Dunedin to Waitati Highway (SH1), and Danseys Pass Road is restricted to 4WD — from the gates past the Danseys Pass Hotel.
A NZ Transport Agency spokesman said motorists should avoid these areas until further notice.
Metservice are forecasting further severe snowstorms for late-Wednesday into Thursday, with the heaviest falls expected in Fiordland where a ‘heavy snow watch’ has been issued — snow here is expected down to 100 meters (328 feet):
Canterbury farmers on Banks Peninsula and the western plains could see accumulations of up to 5 cm (2 inches) late Wed afternoon through Thur. And up to 3 cm (1.2 inches) is forecast along the eastern plains and western hill country: “Snow, strong winds and sub zero temperatures could prove hazardous for livestock,” reads a Blue Skies Forecast release.
This Antarctic blast arrives on the heels of the Spring Equinox, and longer-range weather models still see no signs of NZ’s Spring of 2019 materializing anytime soon.
The cold times are returning, in line with historically low solar activity:
Even NASA agrees, in part at least, with the SC25 forecast revealing this next solar cycle will be “the weakest of the past 200 years”:
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Grand Solar Minimum + Pole Shift