An Air New Zealand Plane Flies Over Mount Victoria
IN PHOTO: An Air New Zealand plane flies over houses in Mount Victoria as it approaches Wellington airport, October 7, 2011. Reuters/Marcos Brindicci

A massive storm far off the coast of New Zealand has left behind bitter cold weather in the country. Clear skies and calm weather from Marlborough to Wairarapa meant residents in central New Zealand experienced the worst of the cold weather overnight.

On Tuesday morning, Blenheim in Marlborough dropped to -5.1 degrees and central Wellington to -1.7 degrees, according to MetService meteorologist Nick Zachar. The cold air over New Zealand has dumped snow in several places including the hills around Wellington.

The polar blast caused widespread disruption as snow reached as far North as Hawke’s Bay. A rare snowfall has been recorded in Napier, reports TVNZ. Central Otago’s Arrowtown also experienced its heaviest snowfall in 30 years while Dunedin was blanketed in white.

Weather expert Philip Duncan said the cold blast in May was not surprising considering the strength of the storm. “The depth of this storm south of New Zealand is up there with some of the biggest hurricanes we’ve seen. It’s a really big storm,” Duncan told New Zealand Herald. He added that it was currently the biggest storm on earth.

The eye of the storm was spotted about 1,500 kilometres southeast of New Zealand. The cold south-west front brought snow that closed sections of state highways and some smaller local roads. The storm had reached the Antarctic ice sheet in the south to the subtropics in the north. It absorbed the air straight from the Antarctic ice into New Zealand.

John Law, a MetService meteorologist, said the cold showers will ease in the coming days but the weather will remain cold and frosty. Michelle Poole, Queenstown Lakes District Council spokesperson, said the snow has melted from the roads but there are still some patches of ice. She added that the Crown Range Road is now open to vehicles with chains.

Roads are back to normal in Dunedin despite some snow in the suburbs. The Dunedin City Council has been bracing for cold winter, reports Radio NZ. Peter Standring, road maintenance engineer of the council, said the colder winter is expected to in the coming year.

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