Cold air brings rain, hail, snow and thunder

Desert Road. File Photo.

A series of cold fronts and troughs moving up the country are bringing unsettled weather to New Zealand to end the weekend and start the new week.

Rain, thunderstorms, snow, hail and wind are all in the forecasts, mostly for western areas and the far south. Severe Weather Watches have been issued for rain and snow, while the Canterbury High Country was on Watch for severe gale northwesterlies until mid-afternoon on Sunday.

“The weather will be very changeable over the next couple of days, with fronts and troughs bringing periods of heavier rain or showers,” says MetService Meteorologist Claire Flynn.

“In addition to this, there is a risk of squally thunderstorms with hail for western parts and in the far south, and snow levels will be lowering.

"There is a Heavy Rain Watch out for Westland south of Otira. There is also a Heavy Snow Watch out for Fiordland and parts of Southland and Otago for significant snowfalls above 400 metres.”

Snow was expected to get as low as 100 metres in the far south on Monday, as low as 500 metres for the upper South Island, and 700 metres around the central North Island. Many higher roads and passes will likely be affected.

“Road snow warnings have been issued for many of the higher roads in the South Island, and the Desert Road is also expected to get a few centimetres from Monday afternoon through to Tuesday morning,” says Claire.

“People planning to travel should ensure that they have read any severe weather updates on, and they can also find current road conditions on the NZTA website.”

Claire says that the cause of the unsettled and cold weather was a pool of cold air moving over New Zealand from the Southern Ocean, following the cold fronts.

The weather is expected to become more settled from mid-week, as a ridge of high pressure starts to edge its way onto the country.