Pictures: Snow sets in ahead of weekend

Snow, heavy rain and blustery winds are starting to blast parts of the country ahead of the weekend.

Andrea Lightfoot says she woke up to an expected snow shower in Pukerau, Southland this morning.

MetService says a strong southwest flow is spreading over the country today.

The forecaster has issued a severe weather watch for gale west to southwest winds about southern and central New Zealand later today and during Friday.

A front within this flow is expected to bring a a period of heavy rain to Fiordland and Westland tonight and Friday morning, MetService says.

Tracy Northcroft snapped this shot of her view in Whataroa on the West Coast today.

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In Southland, Clutha and Dunedin winds are likely to be strongest from tonight until early Saturday morning, especially about the Catlins and Otago coasts from Slope Point to the Otago Peninsula.

In Buller and Nelson winds are likely to be strongest from late Friday morning until Friday evening especially north of Westport and about Golden Bay.

Central Hawke's Bay and the Tararua District will also be lashed by strong winds on Friday.

The New Zealand Transport Agency is warning drivers to take extra care on State Highway from Waikaka Valley to Waipahi due to snowfall in the area.

MetService says a strong, cold, west to southwest flow is expected to cover the country from Friday to Monday, with troughs embedded within this flow.

Wintry showers are expected to persist about southern parts of the country during this period, with a low risk of snow accumulations reaching warning amounts above 400 metres about Fiordland, Southland, Clutha and Dunedin from Friday through to Sunday.

Photographer Andrea Lightfoot shot this picture after a snow shower in Pukerau in Southland this morning.

Keep up to date with the latest forecastshere.