A powerful storm system brought an early-spring snowfall to parts of New Zealand to start the week, turning some beaches in the country into a winter wonderland.
Heavy snowfall blanketed roadways and grounded flights in parts of southern New Zealand as the large storm system underwent rapid strengthening on Sunday and Sunday night, local time.
The storm was considered the "worst of the season," according to the New Zealand Met service, The Guardian reported, and was "very unusual in how widespread the severe weather is."
Snow was reported as far south as New Zealand's Stewart Island, the Met service said. The weather service referred to the event as a "severe September chill" on its website.
That's snow on the Beach! All the way down south on Rakiura/Stewart Island. What snow pics and vides can you post? Don't forget to mention the location! pic.twitter.com/8OSACGPQEl
— MetService (@MetService) September 27, 2020
The National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research shared on Twitter that the central pressure of the storm went from 28.8 inches of mercury (975 hPa) at 12 a.m., Sunday, to 27.7 inches (938 hPa) at 12 a.m., Monday, meeting the criteria for bombogenisis.
Bombogenisis occurs when a storm undergoes rapid strengthening and the barometric pressure falls at least 0.71 of an inch (24 millibars or hPa) in 24 hours.
The phrase "weather bomb" - what does it mean?
🌬️ Used to describe dramatic weather in NZ
🌀 More appropriately called a bomb cyclone
🇱 It's when low pressure strengthens at a pace of 24+ hPa in 24 hours
✔️ Is this one a bomb cyclone? Yes! Pressure drops from 975 to 938 hPa pic.twitter.com/S0opeRrUZz
— NIWA Weather (@NiwaWeather) September 27, 2020
As the bomb cyclone strengthened, it pulled in frigid air from the direction of Antarctica, bringing snow and unseasonably low temperatures to to parts of New Zealand on Sunday and Monday.
Reports of snow-covered roads emerged from the Southland district on Monday. State Highway 94 was even closed for a time, leaving motorists stranded in the snow and high winds, according to 1 NEWS.
Justin Reid of the Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency warned that conditions were deteriorating quickly with this storm, urging residents to be prepared for cold conditions and slippery roads with poor visibility if they couldn't remain off the roadways.
Restricted visibility, heavy snow and strong winds forced the Queenstown Airport to cancel flights on Monday morning, local time.
✈️❄️#SNOW update 10:45am: runway clearing is currently in progress and flights have been cancelled until further notice. The snow is expected all day and is continuing to fall heavily. For further flight information please visit our website: https://t.co/ptn9h0QJqQ pic.twitter.com/rPQwjJGczh
— Queenstown Airport (@NZQN) September 27, 2020
"The heavy snow disrupted flights into the resort town on the first Monday of the school holidays, with Queenstown having [3-4 cm (1-2 inches)] of snow this morning," a MetService spokesperson told 1 NEWS.
Accumulating snow reached sea level in parts of southern New Zealand, including Dunedin, Invercargill and Stewart Island.
Snow continued in some areas on Tuesday, but dry conditions will build across the country on Wednesday as an area of high pressure builds east.
Dry conditions and fresh snow will be welcomed by anyone heading to the slopes during the school holiday.
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