Snow as sparse as good mayoral candidates

Snow in Dunedin! Well, a very light smattering on some of the hills. There’s a few sparse patches here at home, at about 100 metres. There’s  very cold wind, and it’s 3.2 degrees outside at present (up a degree from an hour ago). But it isn’t unusual to get cold snaps here at this time year. The high for today is predicted to be 11, but up to 16 tomorrow and 19 on Saturday. Variety is normal.

The northern motorway has been affected with trucks stopped on the Leith Saddle at 300m.

(Update – traffic was moving by 7:15 am)

And where people live there’s barely a smattering.

The snow there is as sparse as good candidates in the local body elections.

There are 14 people standing for mayor with none standing out as a good prospect.

The two apparent front runners, multi-term councillors may or may not be the best of an uninspiring lot.

Aaron Hawkins seems to have been a hard working councillor and I think deserves getting back on council, but is fairly hard left and is standing officially as a Green party candidate. He’s been a strong promoter of the grossly underused cycle lanes tacked onto the side of the busiest streets in the city (the state highway), and on other cycle lanes it’s unusual to see cycles.

He was recently accused by first term councillors as treating them as juniors – Race heats up as mud flies online

Cr Hawkins triggered the exchange by publicly questioning Cr O’Malley’s decision to endorse Cr Lee Vandervis, during a candidates’ meeting in Opoho last week, as his second pick for the mayoralty.

Cr O’Malley hit back on Sunday, accusing Cr Hawkins of attempting “character assassination” during an election campaign.

He went further, claiming Cr Hawkins had “blocked or sabotaged” every one of Cr O’Malley’s attempts at progressive initiatives over three years.

“He is part of a bullying and controlling group which have frozen out all the new councillors that came on in the last election and even referred to us as junior councillors for the first two years.”

Cr Hawkins denied the claims and fired back, accusing his colleague of promoting “baseless suspicion”.

The exchange divided supporters, as Cr David Benson-Pope weighed in to accuse Cr O’Malley of being motivated by securing a committee chairman role if Cr Vandervis won the mayoralty.

Others – including Cr Andrew Whiley and candidates Mandy Mayhem-Bullock, Scout Barbour-Evans and Richard Seagar – all backed Cr O’Malley.

Scout Barbour-Evans went further, contacting the Otago Daily Times to say Cr Hawkins’ bullying behaviour was one of the reasons the candidate resigned from the Green Party in April.

“Hawkins being a bully goes much further than within council … His signature move is the cackle every time certain people speak. Within the party I was one of those people.”

Lee Vandervis was second in the last mayoral election so must rate a chance, but he is best known for opposing things and getting into trouble for allegedly abusive and bullying behaviour. I know from personal experience he gets agitated easily. Working together with a council would seem to be out of character for him. He’s just clocked up the 12th complaint against him this term.

ODT: Complaint made against Vandervis

Dunedin city councillor and mayoral candidate Lee Vandervis is the subject of a fresh complaint, after becoming embroiled in another verbal altercation with a Dunedin City Council staff member.

The councillor already has 11 complaints against him this term.

The Otago Daily Times has been told by several sources Cr Vandervis received a parking ticket last week, and went to the council’s customer services reception to complain it was unfair.

While he was there, an exchange with a female staff member descended into shouting by Cr Vandervis, the ODT was told.

Voting may be as sparse as the snow, with ‘who the hell do I vote for?’ probably being the most common question asked.

It seems to be a real problem with both local body and national politics these days. It’s something that seems to attract more and more career politicians, and less quality candidates.


After the frosts some snow

The last week in the south has been wintry, with frosts just about everywhere, including hoar frosts in Central Otago – some great photos of that here:

After the calm there’s storm, or at least a brief blast from the south.

The Crown Range web cam is a go to these days to find some snow on a road:

That’s over a 1.000 meters so not surprising to see snow there in southerly storms. The Desert Road in the North Island gets to about the same altitude so could get a dump as the storm goes north.

This morning in Dunedin there’s no sign of snow on the ground here at 100 metres, so i should get to work ok unless it comes in late, but there’s a smattering at 150 metres in Roslyn:

That means the Northern Motorway is likely to be closed for a while, and the hill suburbs will have a late start this morning – Wakari is at 220 metres and Brockville 300 metres – my granddaughter will likely be having some fun today at home.

It looks similar in Queenstown (about 300 metres):

But this looks fairly light and it is forecast to be brief, so winter life will go on as normal.

Is it a storm up north?

Despite the efforts of media to talk it up into a dramatic story this week’s weather in the south of the South Island has been pretty average for July, with nothing out of the ordinary.

Weather forecasts and warnings were fairly accurate although there seems to have been less snow than predicted.

This does accurately show a light smattering of snow on a hill.

The worst of the weather is forecast to be hitting the lower North island today:

Kim Hill just said “the winter storm that battered the South Island yesterday” is a typical ignorant overstatement.

But it may reach storm level up north – over to Your NZ North Island reporters…

Weather watch Wednesday

It’s cold and a bit windy and there’s a light smattering of snow here in Dunedin this morning. There’s a bit more snow at higher altitudes, but traffic is still flowing through Roslyn (at about 150 m).

There’s likely to be a bit more in the higher suburbs, but so far it doesn’t seem to be major.

So far news reports have tend towards over the top and scaremongering. Last night the RNZ description of the South Island on Tuesday was nothing like what I saw around Otago (via webcams).

1 News also implied widespread snow and of course managed to find some in the middle of the South Island, but in a report on Queenstown suggesting snow had hit there they showed that it hadn’t settled in most of the town, and there was only a light smattering on the mountains.

They had someone reporting with snow falling – on the Mount Hutt Skifield road. They can’t have found any at altitudes that most people live.

Newstalk ZB:  Giant snowstorm: North Island now in firing line

Heavy snow is set to blanket southern and eastern regions of both islands over the next 48 hours and towering seas will surge through Cook Strait.

Extensive warnings have gone out as much of the country is set to freeze in the grip of giant snowstorm.

That’s at odds with this from Weather Watch:

This isn’t an Antarctic blast so there isn’t major polar energy coming in off the ice caps, instead a large high over Australia is helping scoop up cold air from over the Southern Ocean area – this is going to merge with sub-tropical rain (coming in as a wet cold easterly) around Wednesday, Thursday and Friday creating both heavy rain and heavy snow (rain heavy at sea level falling as heavy snow above 200 or 300m).

Sea level snow isn’t highly likely at this stage – at least not settling or falling in large amounts.

But it is possible that we may see some flurries reaching low levels, or sea level, around Southland, Otago and parts of Canterbury for a time (especially overnight tonight and early Wednesday morning).

Remember this isn’t a major storm and isn’t an Antarctic blast, even if there will be some severe weather – we usually need a few moving parts all lined up in the right places to get snow into our biggest centres at heavy amounts or sea level. Dunedin is the highest candidate for snow out of the main centres for this event.

The current Metservice Severe Weather Watch:

A cold front, followed by strong cold southerlies, has moved across the South Island today, and will sweep farther northwards over central New Zealand tonight and during Wednesday. Snow has already fallen to low levels in the South Island. Further snow showers are forecast through Wednesday and Thursday in southern and eastern areas, falling as low as 100 or 200 metres at times. Significant accumulations are likely at higher elevations, and especially the Kaikoura Ranges could see an extended period of snowfall.

In the lower and central North Island, snow could fall as low as 400 or 500 metres.

Additionally, a low is forecast to develop east of central New Zealand during Wednesday and deepen rapidly on Thursday, bringing heavy rain and gale south to southeast winds to the upper South Island and the lower North Island.

So we are getting some knarly winter weather in the middle of winter, but so far it doesn’t seem out of the ordinary.

Care certainly needs to be taken on roads, not just from snow if there’s any there but also from ice which is more dangerous. Normal winter precautions need to be taken.

I’ll check the street when it gets light. I may delay going to work but unless something changes significantly I should get out by mid morning.

Not even much snow on Flagstaff:

The webcam photos will update during the day.

A bit of a southerly or “four days of hell”.

The weather forecast is for a bit of a southerly over the next few days in what is usually about the coldest part of winter. It could end up being a but more sustained and snowy than usual. That happens sometimes.

Not that headline writers from Auckland would understand that. NZ Herald:

Four days of hell: worst storm of year bears down on New Zealand

The country is preparing for its worst winter storm of the year with rain, snow and gales set to batter much of New Zealand.

Snow is expected to fall to very low levels in the south of the country with potentially damaging gales, torrential rain and snow lashing the country from Gisborne south.

The Milford Rd is closing at 5pm with significant snow forecast to about 500m by tomorrow morning.

This morning’s forecast is for snow to 200 metres in the South Island. That’s not a big deal, it’s common and doesn’t mean it will settle at that altitude.

Over the next few days it could snow to sea level and settle for a day or two. Snow tends to be fickle and regional – it sounds like inland South Island and Canterbury may cop the worst but that’s uncertain.

A problem with the “four days of hell” headlines is that most people will dismiss it as Auckland bull and go about their lives as per normal for this time of year.

Last week’s forecast snow didn’t happen in most places. That’s more common than actually getting snow.

It could be a bit cool at home, there is a scheduled power cut today. But I’ll go to work as usual, and will probably get home again tonight. I have never been unable to get home because of snow. If it does settle it is more likely to come in the night, and a day or two every year or two I get to have a late start, usually getting out by mid morning.

Every few years we get a day or two where we get ‘snowed in” for a day – usually not badly but it is simply unwise to travel unless you really need to. Things can go on a hold for a day without much problem.

This winter southerly could be worse, it sounds likely to be in some areas, but Metservice is still only forecasting sleet in Dunedin, which looks nice but doesn’t cause any problems.

Some of the highest hill suburbs may get a dump and higher roads are likely to be affected – media will find a road somewhere with some snow on it.

But we will carry on as usual for winter and see what happens without getting too excited about it.

Isn’t hell supposed to be hot, not cold?

The latest from Metservice doesn’t sound particularly concerning, it’s fairly normal for a winter southerly:



A cold front will sweep northwards across the South Island during Tuesday. In the wake of this front, snow is forecast to fall in the south and east, with further snow overnight Tuesday and on Wednesday as very cold air aloft moves over the South Island.

Snow is likely to fall as low as 200 or 300 metres at times from Tuesday until Thursday, with significant accumulations for higher elevations. 20 to 30cm, possibly even more, could accumulate on Otago and Canterbury high country stations. This will affect many higher roads, and could cause problems for livestock from Southland to Banks Peninsula.

This Watch is for the likelihood of significant snow accumulations below 500 metres in the following areas…

Southland and Fiordland: From early Tuesday morning till Wednesday afternoon.

Otago: For a time Tuesday morning, and again Tuesday night till Wednesday evening.

Canterbury and Marlborough: From Tuesday evening till Thursday morning.

People in these areas are strongly advised to stay up to date with the latest forecasts and warnings, as this event unfolds. Road snowfalls warnings will be in effect and warnings for heavy snow could be issued at a later stage.

This Watch will be reviewed by 10am Tuesday 11 July

Snow day

After several days of dire forecasts it looks like being a snow day in Dunedin today. There’s a very light smattering of snow on the ground and it is current snowing gently.

The forecast is still mixed – “Sleety rain, snow flurries about the hills. Cold southeast” – with light precipitation off and on through the day. It is currently 0.8 degrees in Dunedin (MetService), and on the University weather site it has risen to 1.0 degrees from a low of 0.3 but there is no sign of snow on their webcam (close to sea level).

The Roslyn webcams give a good indication of the state of the city, in the hill suburbs at least. One view:


So it is currently snowing there too with a light covering of snow on the road but many peoeple would drive on that.

Roslyn is about 150 metres compared to 100 metres where I live which can make a difference.

The Northern Motorway will either be closed or is likely to be causing problems for some motorists.

I won’t know what this means for my day until it gets light in a couple of hours. The snow could have increased by then, or it could have stopped and melted back. So I may or may not get a snow day at home, olr a part snow day, with light overnight snow it is often ok to drive by mid morning.

We will see what daylight gives us. But going by the current Highgate pics it looks like more snow for a while anyway:


Increasing but still passable for the foolhardy – it’s silly to be driving in these conditions especially as it is deteriorating.

Temperatures have dropped slightly in the last half hour but that’s common just before dawn.

But this doesn’t give me a day off work. I do most of my work by phone and online and wee are prepared for the occasional bit of weather, so I just communicate from a different location, and have important work that needs to be done today.

UPDATE: that flurry has already passed by, and there has been more traffic in Roslyn.

Another update:


It was a short snowfall that is clearing quickly off the roads already. This is fairly typical. Looks like work on time unless another flurry comes through.

Schools are closed until 10.00 am and hill suburbs are likely to be risky.


Snow and ice have closed Dunedin’s Northern Motorway, prompted a delayed start for many schools and affected bus services in the city this morning

The Hits: DUNEDIN NOTICES for Friday (updated 7:51am)

All primary and intermediate schools and Dunedin kindergartens from Mosgiel to Port Chalmers to Waikouaiti – delayed start at 10am

info on whether particular classes are being held.

Getting cold

It looks like we are in for the first decent cold spell for the winter. It has begun in inland South Island with a big dump of snow on the hills and a bit to lower levels, but there is no sign of any snow in Dunedin this morning, and the forecast now says the snow mightn’t come until tomorrow.

ODT: ‘Long, slow, deep decline’ into cold

The MetService issued an updated weather warning and watch for parts of Otago and South Canterbury last night.

A heavy snow warning is in place for East Otago above 400m, meaning Dunedin is unlikely to be affected by snow today.

Heavy snow is expected in the Mackenzie Basin today.

Snow is possible to near sea level in Dunedin and North Otago tomorrow and Saturday.

Snow warnings have been lifted for inland Southland, Clutha, Central Otago, and Southern Lakes.

And I’m just hearing now the severity of the cold snap is being downgraded.

So yeah, it will be a bit colder than usual but not unusual in winter, and it doesn’t look like being as bad as suggested in forecasts and severe weather warnings earlier in the week.

The latest from Metservice (as of last night):


HEAVY SNOW WARNINGS HAVE BEEN LIFTED FOR: Inland parts of Southland and Clutha.

Snow flurries above 200 metres are expected to continue through into Thursday morning.


Snow flurries above 200 metres are expected to continue through into Thursday morning.


We just about never get as much snow as suggested by forecasts and as reported by media.

So far this morning there is no sign of snow at home (100 m) and also no sign of snow on the Roslyn webcams.

Some serious snow

The blizzard in the United States has seen some serious dumps of snow – this should be compulsory viewing for New Zealand journalists before heading up the Northern Motorway (Mt Cargill) or the Crown Range to find a few wee flurries and a smattering of white stuff to plaster over the news here.

Reports confirm that it could be close to record snow falls in some parts of the US.

Dave Engelkemeyer uses a snow blower in front of his home on Allerton Hill in Hull, Massachusetts

I’ve experienced snow like that in Manhattan and Long Island, in the December 2003 nor’easter.

A woman digs out her car after it was blocked in by drifting snow during a blizzard in Portland, Maine

And that, I had to walk several kilometers on conditions like that (at night).

Cars are buried in snow near Hamden, Connecticut

But I haven’t seen anything quite like that before. Especially not in Dunedin. This is more typical of a Dunedin snowfall:

Robertson family's walk to the Playhouse in Dunedin. Photo Bruce Robertson

The worst I have experienced here is about a foot (3o cm) of snow in Central Otago in 1995, when it didn’t melt away for up to two weeks. That was exceptional for here and nowhere near as bad as it gets in the US.

Snow can be a big nuisance, and it can also be a lot of fun as this clip of Tian Tian the panda from the Smithsonian Zoo shows:

That’s very cool in more ways than one.

Today’s big news – snow on a skifield

I haven’t watched television news for over a week until getting home today. I’ve watched the headlines on both Prime and 3 News.

Apparently one of the big news story’s of the day is there is some snow on a mountain skifield.

They both showed Coronet Peak without saying if this extraordinary phenomenon had occurred on  other mountains or not.

It did – I saw quite a few snow capped ranges this afternoon as we flew across the South Island. I’d say the snow line is above 1,000 metres so it’s still confined to the tops of the hills.

Sure there’s a bit of a nip in the air – we landed to 4 degrees – but that’s not particularly unusual in a southerly change here.

The forecast is for snow tonight – what will they put on the news if there’s actually snow at altitudes that people live?

It just seems a bit desperate to go up to a ski field to find some snow for a weather story.