Winter Storm Blasts New Zealand

June 21, 2013; 8:19 PM ET
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A severe winter storm powered by a cold Antarctic outbreak has lashed New Zealand with severe winds, slashing rain and heavy snow.

The foul weather has disrupted flights and ferries as deep hill country snow on the South Island blocked roads through passes, the New Zealand Herald website said on Thursday.

Severe weather watches and warnings through at least Friday covered much of the country and adjacent seas, the MetService website showed.

Hurricane gusts to 84 mph were clocked at the Wellington airport amid heavy falling rain late Thursday, local time, according to meteorological data accessed by AccuWeather.com. Although winds this severe could cause serious damage, there were no immediate reports of damage.

Two-day rainfall of 1-2 inches was widespread over the southern half of the North Island, reaching right southward along the eastern side of South Island, data showed.

Temperatures near sea level hovered in the 30s to lower 40s on the eastern South Island, indicating that snowfall was heavy down to 1,000 to 1,500 feet above sea level. Videos posted online showed snowfall of at least 1-2 feet.

Meanwhile, for Auckland and the Northland, gales and even severe thunderstorms were in the forecast as of Thursday.

Following the first wave of heavy wind, rain and snow swept over the country on Thursday, further bouts of adverse, wintry weather was forecast for Friday, as the massive storm continued to whirl east of the New Zealand.

Video credit: stief3955/YouTube.com

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