The remnants of Tropical Cyclone Lola will merge with another storm system and pummel New Zealand late this weekend when a massive rainmaker will drench the north of the country.
Before a week of rain strikes the upper north, strong winds, plenty of rain, and enormous swells are predicted to wreak havoc on regions from Northland to the East Cape on Sunday and Monday.
Today and Saturday, meanwhile, freezing temperatures will be felt around the country, with conditions more akin to winter as a cold blast from the Southern Ocean brings snow and frost.
Today, temperatures are forecast to plummet while thunderstorms, snow, and hail could strike Dunedin in the morning.
It is a marked change from warmth which has graced the country over the past few days, with Napier hitting the highest temperature in the country on Thursday at 24.1C.
A heavy snow watch for Fiordland, Southland, Clutha, Dunedin, Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes should lapse by 11am today at the latest, with snowfall expected above 300m.
Road snowfall warnings are in place for the Lewis Pass State Highway 7, Arthur’s Pass SH73, Haast Pass SH6, Lindis Pass SH8, the Crown Range Rd, Milford Rd SH94 and the Dunedin to Waitati Highway SH1. Up to 15cm of snow could settle in places above 800m.
The last road snowfall warning should lapse by 2pm.
While MetService forecast an 18C high for Auckland for a cloudy and showery today and Saturday, it issued heavy snow watches and snowfall warnings further south, with Christchurch tipped to see a 0C low.
MetService meteorologist John Law said the last throes of Tropical Cyclone Lola, which smashed Vanuatu over Tuesday night and into Wednesday, would merge with another area of low-pressure off Australia and run toward New Zealand.
“It’s looking like we’ll see watches and warnings issued, particularly in those northern areas,” Law said.
“It’s worth keeping an eye on the forecast as we head through the weekend,” with severe gales and heavy rain for Northland, Auckland, Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, Waikato, Gisborne, and Hawke’s Bay from Sunday evening through Monday, he said.
Private forecaster WeatherWatch said what was left of Lola would create a “squash zone” of gale northeasterlies which could threaten power cuts and bring down trees.
Lola fell apart 48 hours after it first exploded to life, the forecaster said.