Bomb cyclone unleashes travel-disrupting snow across southern New Zealand

Bomb cyclone unleashes travel-disrupting snow across southern New Zealand
·3 min read

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.

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.

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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.

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.

"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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