NZ Historic Weather Events Catalog

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July 1939 New Zealand Snow ( 1939-07-22 )

New Zealand

Multi HazardMulti Hazard at New Zealand
Duration:     -
Comments:

North Island

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at North Island
Comments:

CommentSnow fell down to sea level in many North Island districts.

South Island

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at South Island
Comments:

Affected LifelineHuge snow drifts blocked the railway line between Kingston and Garston.

Physical CharacteristicIn some places the snow along the railway line was up to the carriage windows of the train.

Physical CharacteristicFalls of up to 2 m and drifts of around 6 m were reported in places between Gore and Balclutha.

Northland

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Northland
Comments:

CommentSnow fell for the first time in living memory in Northland.

Auckland

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Mount Eden
Map Location: -36.884591 174.750254
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicThere was 2 in (5.1 cm) of snow on Mt Eden.

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Onehunga
Map Location: -36.921857 174.785998
Comments:

CommentSnow was reported in Onehunga.

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Remuera
Map Location: -36.876567 174.799415
Comments:

CommentSnow was reported in Remuera.

Wellington

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Wellington
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicSnow in the Wairarapa valley was 15 cm deep.

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Wellington City
Map Location: -41.28855 174.776764
Comments:

CommentOn the 25th there was widespread snowfall in the Wellington hill suburbs and down to the city area.

Otago

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Otago
Comments:

CommentTowards the end of July, the heaviest and most widespread snow of a series of storms became the worst on record in Otago.

CommentSnowfall was general throughout the province on the 24th July.

Affected LifelineOn the main north road conditions became difficult at about 4pm. The road past Mount Cargill was blocked just before 6pm for a short period. The Lookout Point and Saddle Hill sections of the main south road had a frozen surface. The Outram-Middlemarch road was impassable and there was snow on the Pigroot.

Physical CharacteristicOn the main south road there was snow to a depth of 2-3 in (5.1-7.6 cm) on the night of the 24th. Conditions were reported as worse south of Balclutha.

Physical CharacteristicFalls of up to 2 m and drifts of around 6 m were reported along the Outram to Middlemarch road.

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Dunedin
Map Location: -45.87911 170.502707
Comments:

CommentDunedin city had its worst snowfall ever during July and August. The snowfall on the 24th and 25th was the heaviest fall experienced in the city in 50 years.

CommentThere was a severe snow storm in the city on the 24th July. There was a sudden change in wind direction and a drop in temperature just before midday, followed by several heavy sleet showers and falls of snow during the afternoon and evening. Snow falls continued on the 25th and became heavier and more frequent later in the afternoon.

Affected LifelineA particularly heavy fall caught rush-hour crowds between 5pm and 6pm. The storm had a serious effect on the transport services. Transport was completely disorganised on the 25th and cars were held up everywhere, some in deep drifts.

Affected LifelineAll electric trams were stopped at about 8pm on the 25th, with hold-ups and delays on all lines. The Mornington tram service was snowed up from the morning of the 25th until 12pm on the 28th. The Roslyn trams were out of action from the night of the 25th until the morning of the 28th and the Kaikorai trams were out of action from the 25th until 12pm on the 28th.

Damage CostThe loss to buses as a result of the storm was estimated at £900 ($76,800 2008 dollars).

Physical CharacteristicThere were snowfalls of 50 cm in Dunedin.

Physical CharacteristicOn some roads there were snow drifts up to 5 metres deep.

Physical CharacteristicOn the 25th the ground was covered to 4-5 in (10.2-12.7 cm) on the lower levels and up to 9 in (22.9 cm) in the hill areas. Falls continued at intervals throughout the day until there was more than 1 ft (31 cm) of snow in some areas. At 1am on the 25th there was an estimated 9 in (23 cm) of snow on the flat and more than 1 ft (31 cm) in the hill areas of city, and snow was still falling.

ImpactPrimary and secondary schools were closed on the 25th and 26th.

ImpactA large number of people had to go without coal and wood.

Affected LifelineThere were a few minor faults with the telephone service. There was a little trouble with the telegraph wire on the Middlemarch route, although there were no delays..

Affected LifelineThere were some delays in train services on the 25th.

LightningLightning
Comments:

Affected LifelineA flash of lightning and heavy thunder shortly before 7pm interrupted radio broadcasts from transmitters at Highcliff. There was another brilliant flash about two hours later.

Multi HazardMulti Hazard
Comments:

CommentThere was a heavy fall of snow and hail between 5pm and 6pm on the 25th.

Affected LifelineShipping was held up by the weather and there was no labour on the waterfront.

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Dunedin Airport
Map Location: -45.928643 170.198772
Comments:

Affected LifelineA north-bound plane was cancelled on the 25th and a south-bound plane from Auckland could not get further than Christchurch.

Physical CharacteristicThere was nearly 10 in (25 cm) of snow on the aerodrome.

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Lawrence
Map Location: -45.914289 169.691279
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicThere was 3-4 in (7.6-10.2 cm) of snow in Lawrence.

Physical CharacteristicThere was more than 4 in (10.2 cm) of snow on the Milton-Lawrence highway.

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Middlemarch
Map Location: -45.508281 170.125395
Comments:

CommentIt was snowing in Middlemarch at 6pm on the 24th.

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Waipori Falls
Map Location: -45.904678 169.972977
Comments:

CommentThere was heavy snow at Waipori on the 25th.

Peak Snow DepthAt Mahinerangi Dam there was snow to a depth of 16 in (41 cm).

Peak Snow DepthAt te power house there was snow to a depth of 12 in (30 cm).

Southland

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Southland
Comments:

CommentThere was a great snowfall in Northern Southland, which began on 22nd July and did not let up for 6 days.

CommentThe snow fell on ground that was iron-hard from frosts.

CommentOn the 24th there were heavy snowfalls in districts west of Invercargill and between Mossburn and Eglinton Valley.

Affected LifelineThe water supply became a problem as freezing temperatures froze household supplies and stock troughs and ponds turned into solid ice.

Stock DamageStock losses were huge. The main contributing factor was the length of time the snow lay on the ground. After the snow cleared, sheep carcasses buried for six weeks were found flattened and preserved.

High Wind GustsHigh Wind / Gust
Comments:

CommentA howling gale blew throughout the snowfall.

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Athol
Map Location: -45.50847 168.579174
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicAt Athol, snow was up to fence tops.

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Burnside homestead
Map Location: -45.434317 168.705151
Comments:

Physical Characteristic86 cm of snow was recorded around the house at Burnside Farm. The snow lay there for six weeks.

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Garston
Map Location: -45.467854 168.686014
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicWhen the train from Kingston reached Garston there was snow piled 3 ft (91 cm) deep over the line and up to the platform.

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Invercargill
Map Location: -46.436318 168.35975
Comments:

Peak Snow DepthSnow fell to depths of no greater than about 5 cm in Invercargill.

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Lumsden
Map Location: -45.740784 168.456441
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicSnow depths of over 50 cm were reported in Lumsden.

FloodingFlooding at Mataura
Map Location: -46.18797 168.855413
Comments:

Peak River FlowThe flood in the Matuara Borough on the 27th had a discharge of 694 cumecs. This was the annual maximum flood.

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Mossburn
Map Location: -45.668358 168.221765
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicSnow depths of over 50 cm were reported in Mossburn.

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Nokomai
Map Location: -45.495973 168.66662
Comments:

Affected LifelineAt Nokomai, staff working at the Sew Hoy gold dredging operation experienced hardship, and some families ran short of food.

ImpactDredge staff dug their way about 13 km to Parawa.

References

Esler, L. (2002). The Southland book of records. Invercargill, NZ: Craig Printing Company Ltd.
Fraser, A. (2002). Weather hazards. 45°S Weather Services Ltd, Invercargill.
Major weather events in New Zealand, Snowstorms to 14 June 2006.
Municipality of Dunedin. City of Dunedin (New Zealand), Departmental Reports For the Year 1939-1940.
New Zealand's Nature Heritage, Hamlyn House, Auckland, Volume 6, Great Storms.
Headline: Cold comfort for Aucklanders.
www.nzherald.co.nz, 14 June 2000.
Headline: Snow storm.
Otago Daily Times, 25 July 1939.
Headline: The airways.
Otago Daily Times, 26 July 1939.
Headline: Communications normal.
Otago Daily Times, 26 July 1939.
Headline: Dunedin under snow.
Otago Daily Times, 26 July 1939.
Headline: Roads of snow.
Otago Daily Times, 26 July 1939.
Headline: Snowfall continues.
Otago Daily Times, 26 July 1939.
Headline: Task of the trams.
Otago Daily Times, 26 July 1939.
Headline: Trains delayed.
Otago Daily Times, 26 July 1939.
Headline: Snowfall of 1939 recalled.
The Southland Times, 28 June 2001.
Surface Water Hydrology of the Mataura River Catchment.

July 1939 New Zealand Snow ( 1939-07-22 )

New Zealand

Multi HazardMulti Hazard at New Zealand
Duration:     -
Comments:

North Island

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at North Island
Comments:

CommentSnow fell down to sea level in many North Island districts.

South Island

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at South Island
Comments:

Affected LifelineHuge snow drifts blocked the railway line between Kingston and Garston.

Physical CharacteristicIn some places the snow along the railway line was up to the carriage windows of the train.

Physical CharacteristicFalls of up to 2 m and drifts of around 6 m were reported in places between Gore and Balclutha.

Northland

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Northland
Comments:

CommentSnow fell for the first time in living memory in Northland.

Auckland

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Mount Eden
Map Location: -36.884591 174.750254
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicThere was 2 in (5.1 cm) of snow on Mt Eden.

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Onehunga
Map Location: -36.921857 174.785998
Comments:

CommentSnow was reported in Onehunga.

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Remuera
Map Location: -36.876567 174.799415
Comments:

CommentSnow was reported in Remuera.

Wellington

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Wellington
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicSnow in the Wairarapa valley was 15 cm deep.

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Wellington City
Map Location: -41.28855 174.776764
Comments:

CommentOn the 25th there was widespread snowfall in the Wellington hill suburbs and down to the city area.

Otago

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Otago
Comments:

CommentTowards the end of July, the heaviest and most widespread snow of a series of storms became the worst on record in Otago.

CommentSnowfall was general throughout the province on the 24th July.

Affected LifelineOn the main north road conditions became difficult at about 4pm. The road past Mount Cargill was blocked just before 6pm for a short period. The Lookout Point and Saddle Hill sections of the main south road had a frozen surface. The Outram-Middlemarch road was impassable and there was snow on the Pigroot.

Physical CharacteristicOn the main south road there was snow to a depth of 2-3 in (5.1-7.6 cm) on the night of the 24th. Conditions were reported as worse south of Balclutha.

Physical CharacteristicFalls of up to 2 m and drifts of around 6 m were reported along the Outram to Middlemarch road.

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Dunedin
Map Location: -45.87911 170.502707
Comments:

CommentDunedin city had its worst snowfall ever during July and August. The snowfall on the 24th and 25th was the heaviest fall experienced in the city in 50 years.

CommentThere was a severe snow storm in the city on the 24th July. There was a sudden change in wind direction and a drop in temperature just before midday, followed by several heavy sleet showers and falls of snow during the afternoon and evening. Snow falls continued on the 25th and became heavier and more frequent later in the afternoon.

Affected LifelineA particularly heavy fall caught rush-hour crowds between 5pm and 6pm. The storm had a serious effect on the transport services. Transport was completely disorganised on the 25th and cars were held up everywhere, some in deep drifts.

Affected LifelineAll electric trams were stopped at about 8pm on the 25th, with hold-ups and delays on all lines. The Mornington tram service was snowed up from the morning of the 25th until 12pm on the 28th. The Roslyn trams were out of action from the night of the 25th until the morning of the 28th and the Kaikorai trams were out of action from the 25th until 12pm on the 28th.

Damage CostThe loss to buses as a result of the storm was estimated at £900 ($76,800 2008 dollars).

Physical CharacteristicThere were snowfalls of 50 cm in Dunedin.

Physical CharacteristicOn some roads there were snow drifts up to 5 metres deep.

Physical CharacteristicOn the 25th the ground was covered to 4-5 in (10.2-12.7 cm) on the lower levels and up to 9 in (22.9 cm) in the hill areas. Falls continued at intervals throughout the day until there was more than 1 ft (31 cm) of snow in some areas. At 1am on the 25th there was an estimated 9 in (23 cm) of snow on the flat and more than 1 ft (31 cm) in the hill areas of city, and snow was still falling.

ImpactPrimary and secondary schools were closed on the 25th and 26th.

ImpactA large number of people had to go without coal and wood.

Affected LifelineThere were a few minor faults with the telephone service. There was a little trouble with the telegraph wire on the Middlemarch route, although there were no delays..

Affected LifelineThere were some delays in train services on the 25th.

LightningLightning
Comments:

Affected LifelineA flash of lightning and heavy thunder shortly before 7pm interrupted radio broadcasts from transmitters at Highcliff. There was another brilliant flash about two hours later.

Multi HazardMulti Hazard
Comments:

CommentThere was a heavy fall of snow and hail between 5pm and 6pm on the 25th.

Affected LifelineShipping was held up by the weather and there was no labour on the waterfront.

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Dunedin Airport
Map Location: -45.928643 170.198772
Comments:

Affected LifelineA north-bound plane was cancelled on the 25th and a south-bound plane from Auckland could not get further than Christchurch.

Physical CharacteristicThere was nearly 10 in (25 cm) of snow on the aerodrome.

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Lawrence
Map Location: -45.914289 169.691279
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicThere was 3-4 in (7.6-10.2 cm) of snow in Lawrence.

Physical CharacteristicThere was more than 4 in (10.2 cm) of snow on the Milton-Lawrence highway.

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Middlemarch
Map Location: -45.508281 170.125395
Comments:

CommentIt was snowing in Middlemarch at 6pm on the 24th.

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Waipori Falls
Map Location: -45.904678 169.972977
Comments:

CommentThere was heavy snow at Waipori on the 25th.

Peak Snow DepthAt Mahinerangi Dam there was snow to a depth of 16 in (41 cm).

Peak Snow DepthAt te power house there was snow to a depth of 12 in (30 cm).

Southland

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Southland
Comments:

CommentThere was a great snowfall in Northern Southland, which began on 22nd July and did not let up for 6 days.

CommentThe snow fell on ground that was iron-hard from frosts.

CommentOn the 24th there were heavy snowfalls in districts west of Invercargill and between Mossburn and Eglinton Valley.

Affected LifelineThe water supply became a problem as freezing temperatures froze household supplies and stock troughs and ponds turned into solid ice.

Stock DamageStock losses were huge. The main contributing factor was the length of time the snow lay on the ground. After the snow cleared, sheep carcasses buried for six weeks were found flattened and preserved.

High Wind GustsHigh Wind / Gust
Comments:

CommentA howling gale blew throughout the snowfall.

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Athol
Map Location: -45.50847 168.579174
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicAt Athol, snow was up to fence tops.

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Burnside homestead
Map Location: -45.434317 168.705151
Comments:

Physical Characteristic86 cm of snow was recorded around the house at Burnside Farm. The snow lay there for six weeks.

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Garston
Map Location: -45.467854 168.686014
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicWhen the train from Kingston reached Garston there was snow piled 3 ft (91 cm) deep over the line and up to the platform.

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Invercargill
Map Location: -46.436318 168.35975
Comments:

Peak Snow DepthSnow fell to depths of no greater than about 5 cm in Invercargill.

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Lumsden
Map Location: -45.740784 168.456441
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicSnow depths of over 50 cm were reported in Lumsden.

FloodingFlooding at Mataura
Map Location: -46.18797 168.855413
Comments:

Peak River FlowThe flood in the Matuara Borough on the 27th had a discharge of 694 cumecs. This was the annual maximum flood.

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Mossburn
Map Location: -45.668358 168.221765
Comments:

Physical CharacteristicSnow depths of over 50 cm were reported in Mossburn.

Snow / IceSnow / Ice at Nokomai
Map Location: -45.495973 168.66662
Comments:

Affected LifelineAt Nokomai, staff working at the Sew Hoy gold dredging operation experienced hardship, and some families ran short of food.

ImpactDredge staff dug their way about 13 km to Parawa.

References

Esler, L. (2002). The Southland book of records. Invercargill, NZ: Craig Printing Company Ltd.
Fraser, A. (2002). Weather hazards. 45°S Weather Services Ltd, Invercargill.
Major weather events in New Zealand, Snowstorms to 14 June 2006.
Municipality of Dunedin. City of Dunedin (New Zealand), Departmental Reports For the Year 1939-1940.
New Zealand's Nature Heritage, Hamlyn House, Auckland, Volume 6, Great Storms.
Headline: Cold comfort for Aucklanders.
www.nzherald.co.nz, 14 June 2000.
Headline: Snow storm.
Otago Daily Times, 25 July 1939.
Headline: The airways.
Otago Daily Times, 26 July 1939.
Headline: Communications normal.
Otago Daily Times, 26 July 1939.
Headline: Dunedin under snow.
Otago Daily Times, 26 July 1939.
Headline: Roads of snow.
Otago Daily Times, 26 July 1939.
Headline: Snowfall continues.
Otago Daily Times, 26 July 1939.
Headline: Task of the trams.
Otago Daily Times, 26 July 1939.
Headline: Trains delayed.
Otago Daily Times, 26 July 1939.
Headline: Snowfall of 1939 recalled.
The Southland Times, 28 June 2001.
Surface Water Hydrology of the Mataura River Catchment.