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Winter onslaught on the way

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 13/07/2016

A full onslaught of winter weather is about to hit the country, with many areas in the path of heavy rain, wind or snow.

MetService issued several severe weather warnings for southern and central New Zealand on Wednesday.

It says a very active front is moving eastward across the country, which will bring with it heavy rain to western areas, and cause rivers and streams to rise.

In the South Island, Westland and the Main Divide are likely to get the worst downpours, with Westland experiencing peak intensity periods of 25 to 40mm per hour on Wednesday afternoon and evening with thunderstorms.

Heavy rain in Wanaka has already caused surface flooding on roads.

Fiordland, Buller, Nelson and Mt Taranaki have also been warned to expect a deluge throughout Wednesday and Thursday.

Parts of Canterbury, Marlborough, Wellington, Wairarapa, Taranaki, Whanganui and Taipahe will get severe northwest gale force winds of up to 140km/h from Wednesday through to Thursday morning.

Police have warned drivers on State Highway 8, near Tekapo and Fairlie, to drive to the conditions after strong winds have caused problems for motorists.

They say anyone towing a vehicle, or driving a high-sided vehicle should wait for the winds to die down.

A bus was blown off the road west of Burkes Pass, but no one was injured and the bus stayed upright, police said.

Several South Island passes have also been issued warnings for snow, much to the delight of ski fields.

Cardrona Ski Resort tweeted on Wednesday morning "It's dumping!". The ski field said it was open with strong winds and snowfall that was expected to ease as the day went on.

Snowfall is expected to hit Lewis Pass, Arthur's Pass, Porters Pass, Lindis Pass, Haast Pass, and Milford Rd on Thursday.

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