Snow falls in Auckland for 1st time in 80 yrs

Updated: 2011-08-15 19:29


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WELLINGTON - Residents of New Zealand's biggest city had a tale to tell their grandchildren Monday when snow fell in downtown Auckland for the first time in 80 years. said the last time snow fell in Auckland city center was in the 1930s.

Weatherwatch meteorologists said the snow would settle at heights of 200 meters and fall to 100 meters in Auckland overnight.

The capital, Wellington, also reported snow in amounts nor seen since the 1970s, MetService head forecaster Peter Kreft was quoted as saying.

About 100 people were trapped in their cars north of Wellington and roads around the capital and Dunedin were impassable when it began late Sunday.

The freak weather has closed roads and schools and caused power blackouts around the country.

Five people were taken to hospital in Auckland after a tree fell on one house injuring a family of four and an elderly man was blown over.  None of them were reported to be seriously injured.

In the earthquake-battered second city of Christchurch, some flights were diverted to other cities because of the snow.  The airport remained open, but airlines were advised to use their discretion on using it.

The MetService said Wellington could receive another 5 cm over the next 24 hours.

Civil Defence authorities urged residents to ensure they were prepared in the event that unseasonal snow kept them housebound.

"Really cold weather and heavy snowfalls across the region over the past day are forecast to continue until later this week," Wellington region Civil Defence manager Rian Van Schalkwyk said Monday.

"People should prepare for the worst, which means making sure they're ready in the event that they cannot leave home and may be without electricity and other amenities.

"Essentials for home preparedness include food and water stocks, essential medicines, candles and alternative means of heating food. People who rely on log burners or open fires for home heating should also check that they have enough stocks of fuel to keep them and their families warm."

Meteorologists warned the cold flow was expected to continue to bring snow and gales to many parts of the country on Tuesday, making driving very hazardous, especially on higher roads throughout the South Island and over parts of the North Island in coming days.

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