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Wild week of weather in New Zealand

Ben Domensino, Tuesday July 11, 2017 - 11:42 EST

A series of intense weather systems will produce a four-day spell of wild wintry weather in New Zealand this week.

The inclement conditions will be driven by two systems: a cold front crossing the country on Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by a low pressure system near the North Island from Wednesday to Friday.

Standout features during the next four days will include snow falling near sea level in the South Island during the next 48 hours, heavy snow accumulations reaching low levels on both the North and South Island this week, damaging gale force winds and heavy rain that may lead to flooding from Wednesday, and large waves that may cause coastal inundation.

It all starts today.

The cold front will sweep over the South Island today and the North Island from tonight and on Wednesday. Showers will accompany the front and snow will fall to low levels in its wake.

Snow is forecast down to 100-200 metres above sea level in southern and eastern parts of the South Island and 400 metres in the North Island between now and Thursday. At times, snow may reach sea level in the South Island and could settle in some of the larger towns and cities. Snow accumulations of 20-30cm are likely on higher ground by the end of the week, although some mountains will see much higher totals, particularly in the Canterbury region.

Southerly winds behind the front will be fresh at times from today, causing wind chill to exacerbate the already low temperatures.

Christchurch is forecast to reach a top of just six degrees on Wednesday, which is seven below average for July, its coldest month of the year. Strong winds averaging 30km/h will make it feel even colder than this for most of the day tomorrow.

The cold front will move off the east coast of the North Island on Wednesday, allowing the low pressure system to deepen rapidly. This tightly wound system will then move back over the North Island on Thursday, bringing a burst of gales, heavy rain and more snow.

The strongest winds will occur near and south of the low due to its clockwise rotation and westward movement. Gales are likely in eastern and southern districts of the North Island, including Wellington, and over the upper South Island. Gales may also extend to other parts of the North Island during Thursday or Friday morning, depending on the low's future movement.

The heaviest rain will occur near the low and target eastern areas of the lower North Island and upper South Island, from Thursday into Friday. Rainfall totals may reach 50-100mm during a 24 hours period in these areas, which is enough to cause flash flooding.

Low-lying areas along the south and east coasts that are exposed to strong onshore winds this week may also experience coastal inundation as large waves combine with heavy rainfall.

After four days of turbulent weather, conditions will ease over New Zealand as the as the low moves away to the east from Friday.

Keep up to date with the latest severe weather information from New Zealand's Met Service on their website, here: http://www.metservice.com/

- Weatherzone

© Weatherzone 2017

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