Snow disrupts motorists as ski fields celebrate

by Lauren Pattemore - Aug 01, 2023

Update 6.35pm: The Lindis Pass is open and chains are no longer required; Crown Range is open and chains must be carried between Eastburn Road and Cardrona village.

Motorists are advised to keep an eye on weather reports as the Crown Range road reopens again to vehicles with chains after earlier today closing to all traffic.

The top stretch of the alpine road closed to traffic just after lunch time today, with MetService issuing heavy snowfall warnings for the area earlier in the day.

However, the Queenstown Lakes District Council, which manages the road linking Queenstown and Wānaka, re-opened the road just after 2.30pm.

MetService issued a road snowfall warning for the area at 11am for five hours from 12pm.

Snow is expected above 800 metres and forecast to reach the valley overnight, and continue into Wednesday morning.

Up to 10 centimetres of snow is predicted on sections of the road above 700 metres overnight.

An alternative route is State Highway Six via Cromwell.

In a statement, Waka Kotahi says there is also heavy snow falling on the Lindis Pass highway, and chains are required for all vehicles.

The Lindis Pass highway earlier this afternoon (Tuesday, August 1).

Downer and Fulton Hogan crews are working each end of the Lindis Pass with graders and grit trucks this afternoon.

“If you can avoid travelling through this area today, please take a different route as the situation may worsen in a very short time,” Robert Choveaux, the system manager for Otago and Southland for Waka Kotahi, says.

The Milford Road has also been closed and is expected to remain until at least late Wednesday morning.

Elsewhere in Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago a heavy snowfall watch is in place for 14 hours from 1am on Wednesday (August 2), through to 3pm. 

Snow is expected to reach as low at 200 metres, and may hit warning criteria in places above 300 metres.

Metservice is advising the snowfall watch could be extended, with further snow showers possible on Wednesday evening. 

Weather warnings have also been issued for heavy rain and possible thunderstorms and strong north-westerlies reaching 130 kilometres per hour, dying down to 120 kilometres per hour tonight, changing to the southwest.

MetService has advised driving around Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago could be hazardous due to the winds, especially for high-sided vehicles and motorcycles.

Meanwhile, nearby ski fields are celebrating the news after a dismal start to the season, and limited snow on the fields, with Cardona posting on social media today, saying "The storm is finally delivering!". 

Stay across the latest from MetService here.

Main image: Metservice traffic camera on the Crown Range Road at 1.28pm today, Tuesday August 1.


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