Weather: Severe gales, blizzards, 12-metre waves as two Southern Ocean storms blast New Zealand

Severe gales, giant swells, rain and snow are about to shock the country as two Southern Ocean storms track very near to New Zealand. 

Weather: Severe gales, blizzards, 12-metre waves as two Southern Ocean storms blast New Zealand

By Caitlin Ellis

The first storm will trail past on Sunday followed by a larger one moving through on Wednesday.

Both storms bring with them a dramatic temperature drop with daytime highs failing to reach double digits in some places.

New Zealand often experiences dramatic cold changes during summer, but according to WeatherWatch, this one will be more “potent” than most and comes with severe gales.

It warns everyone travelling in remote areas to take caution as this is “not the usual cool change in summer”.

“This upcoming weather is being generated by two powerful storms in the Southern Ocean and severe weather is highly likely.”

To top it all off the West Coast of the South Island will see some massive swells rolling in by mid-week, expected to reach 12 metres.

Snow and rain

Snow flurries are expected on the Southern Alps as early as Saturday night and will see heavier snowfall as the second low moves in midweek.

MetService has heavy rain warnings in place for Nelson, Richmond Ranges, Dunedin, Clutha, South of Riversdale, and Fiordland until Sunday night, as well as a heavy rain warning for the Westland Ranges in place until 1am Monday.

Near-freezing temperatures

Windchill is set to get down to freezing in northern Southland, according to RuralWeather. Dunedin will experience an air temp of 10C on Wednesday that will feel more like a chilly 6C.

WeatherWatch is warning those in Fiordland National Park will feel the brunt of the chill, the daytime high for Milford Sound currently sitting at just 5C for Wednesday but due to windchill will feel more like 1C.

“Trampers, campers and hikers in these areas will need winter gear and be prepared for blizzards higher up in the ranges,” says WeatherWatch head forecaster Philip Duncan.

“If this was happening in August we’d be looking at a significant sea-level snow event for the lower South Island. A stormier than usual Southern Ocean since spring 2020 is the driver of this much colder-than-usual change for parts of New Zealand.”

While all Kiwis will be facing a frosty summer temperature drop, the top half of the North Island is set to be less exposed.

“Auckland will drop down to maybe 19C as the daytime high on Wednesday but it will be the westerly winds that may be of more notice with at least three or four windy days in a row on the way with gusts to gale force at times,” says Duncan.

Wellington is expected to be in the “thick” of it, with four days of possible gale-force winds starting Sunday. Tie-down your trampolines for the expected peak on Tuesday where damaging gusts could reach over 120km.

High winds will also impact eastern areas such as the Coromandel Peninsula, where windy westerlies may near gale force for a time. 

Thunderstorms are possible in the west, which will also see gale-force winds as air funnels up through the Cook Strait Area.

Christchurch will be able to escape the freezing temperatures but not the wind, with gusts reaching up to 100km.

Originally published at News hub