Icy storm brings downpours, road closures and gales - more rain due tomorrow

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the story so far

  • The polar blast which caused travel chaos across the country yesterday continues today.
  • Central New Zealand has been the worst hit with heavy downpours and winds up to 125 km/h recorded in Wellington.
  • Travel has been severely impacted with road closures in the South and central North Island and Interisland ferries cancelled until Friday.
  • Flooding has been recorded in the Wairarapa region with more rain on the way.

1 NEWS NOW has provided coverage of the winter storm throughout the day, which has brought snow, rain and gales to much of the country.

Live coverage has now concluded for the day, but you can review the updates and visual content below.

Send your weather videos and pictures to news@tvnz.co.nz.

Heavy rain today caused major surface flooding on roads and farmland in Wairarapa.
Source: 1 NEWS

8:31pm MetService has given an updated Watch and Warning list for weather across the country. Rainfall warnings are in place for Wairarapa, Wellington, Kapiti and higher parts of Manawatu. Rainfall watches are in place for Taranaki and Whanganui, Hawke's Bay and Gisborne. Severe southwest to southeast gales are possible in Northland, Hawke's Bay and eastern parts of Bay of Plenty and Taupo. People in those areas are advised to stay up to date with the latest forecasts and to be aware of road conditions. More snow is expected about the central North Island high country overnight including higher parts of Manawatu and Hawke's Bay. MetService will review its advisories tomorrow morning at 10am.

8:00pm Delays appear to be hitting Auckland Airport due to the icy blast hitting the region. TVNZ's Miriama Kamo tweeted that she had been stuck on the tarmac for some time. The airport tweeted earlier that traffic on George Bolt Drive - the main route to the airport - was busier than usual.

5:55pm Horizons District Council says the Manawatu-Whanganui region will have some reprieve from the rain overnight, but a new weather system will likely bring much more rain tomorrow - up to 100mm in some areas, which is more than they had today. Staff are monitoring rivers and are ready to open the Moutoa floodgates tomorrow if required early tomorrow. The Manawatu Gorge road remains closed, but the Saddle Road and Pahiatua Track remain open. The council encouraged those affected or cut off by the weather to check on their neighbours and share resources wherever required.

5:35pm New Zealand post says its network has been considerably disrupted by the storm and deliveries of mail and packages in many areas will likely be late. The company said it has plans in place to quickly recover after the storm passes and thanked customers for their patience.

The cold snap hit all around the Central Plateau and the military lent a hand on the roads.
Source: 1 NEWS

5:29pm South Wairarapa District Council reports no evacuations have taken place yet but some localised flooding has taken place in Martinborough. SH53 is closed and a number of properties have flooding issues, but no houses have been inundated as yet - monitoring will continue overnight. In the Hutt Valley, the river is high but officials are not concerned about its level. Block Road has been closed due to surface flooding.

Gale-force winds, heavy snow and torrential downpours lashed the region, cutting power to thousands.
Source: 1 NEWS

5:14pm Tararua District Council says some flooding was experienced in Pahiatua today but an evacuation centre opened earlier has now closed. The Saddle Road and Pahiatua Track are both open to traffic, although motorists are advised to only travel if necessary. Further heavy rain could fall overnight and some rural roads have suffered slips - a full list is available here.

4:37pm Napier City Council says 14 people who were trapped in their vehicles on the Napier-Taupo Road are being housed temporarily at Kennedy Park Resort, and they are unsure when they will be able to return to their vehicles.

3:55pm Ruapehu District Council has activated its Emergency Operations Centre in Taumarunui due to the snow event in the Central Plateau and Waimarino area. The council said in a release that the worst of the snow for today has already moved through, but more is due tomorrow.

Power has been off in Ohakune and Raetihi for most of the afternoon and power companies are hoping to restore it by about 5pm this evening. People in Owhango, National Park, Ohakune, Raetihi and Whakapapa should conserve water until further notice.

Overnight temperatures will likely be below freezing, so driving on the roads in the area will be extremely dangerous. The forecast for the weekend is for clear skies. Police have responded to a number of accidents and authorities are continuing to urge people to stay off the roads.

3:48pm Emergency services have rescued and evacuated a group of 30 motorists from the Napier-Taupo road after their became trapped by snow and ice. The highway remains closed and will likely stay that way until at least midday Friday. Camping areas off SH5 are being checked for people in need of assistance. The Napier-Taihape road also remains closed. 

3:39pm Staff at Whakapapa Ski Area are busy tending to the new snow and forming new trails in anticipation of a bumper few days for skiers and snowboarders. Spokesperson Matt McIvor told 1 NEWS locals in nearby Ohakune estimated the snowfall to be the biggest since 2001, and 20cm has fallen as of noon. On the ski area itself, more than 60cm has fallen and some wind drifts have been measured at more than 2m deep. The forecast for the weekend is clear and a huge influx of skiers and snowboarders is expected.

3:21pm MetService continues to report heavy rain hitting Wellington, with downpours forecast to continue throughout the day steadily. Severe gale-force southerlies gusting up to 140kmh will also continue until evening.

2:18pm The Chateau Tongariro Hotel near Whakapapa skifield is cut off due to road closures all around it, and guests there are being advised to hunker down and stay warm.

Manager of the Chateau Tongariro Hotel Brad McGlynn says guests are being advised to hunker down and enjoy a hot meal and stay warm while the storm passes.
Source: 1 NEWS

1:46pm NZTA says all lanes at Ngauranga Gorge north of Wellington are now open again after being closed for a time this afternoon.

1:40pm The NZTA is advising all motorists that there are multiple road closures in the central North Island and telling them to avoid travelling, as major routes are closed until further notice. Full details of the closures are available on NZTA's traffic map here. The Napier-Taupo road is also closed due to ice and snow.

Icy and snowy conditions have descended on the central North Island.
Source: 1 NEWS

12.56pm State Highway 1 between Wellington and Lower Hutt, the Ngauranga Gorge, is closed due to a sign over the highway becoming loose due to strong winds.

Hundreds of Wellingtonians woke without power this morning, with flights delayed and roads flooded.
Source: 1 NEWS

12:53pm Masterton District Council has informed 1 NEWS that Joan's Pl and Cockburn St in east Masterton is flooded and closed.

They also say the Ponatahi Bridge, just outside Martinborough, has been washed out by a rising Huangarua river.

More flooding is expected, with up to 170ml of rain forecast to fall in the region before tomorrow morning.

Henley Lake flooding in Masterton.

Henley Lake flooding in Masterton.

Source: Facebook/ Fiona Samuel

12:43pm Power is gradually being restored to many areas experiencing outages in Wellington, with just under 1000 homes awaiting reconnection, down from more than 2000 this morning.

12:35pm Not everyone has been put off by the foul weather today.

Adam and Clint Brandon decided to make the most of a stormy Wellington day.
Source: 1 NEWS

12:30pm

After freezing temperatures and snow caused travel chaos yesterday, the polar blast is far from over, with more rain, gales and snow hitting the country today.

Central New Zealand has seen the worst of the weather today, with heavy downpours and sustained winds of 125 km/h recorded in Wellington.

The heaviest snow will be in North Canterbury, Kaikoura and the central North Island high country, with snow likely to build up to 20cm in the worst affected areas.

Travel has once again been impacted with road closures in place for both island's, and Interisland ferries cancelled until Friday.

Domestic flights have also been impacted, with travellers urged to check the status of their flights before leaving home.

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