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Rimutaka Hill Road open with black ice warning

Aug 18th, 2011 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

SNOW PLOUGH: State Highway 2 lined with snow and grit. PHOTO: Natalie Finnigan

By Natalie Finnigan and Christina Hyde-Fitzwater 

Traffic has begun to flow again over the Rimutaka Hill Road after contractors finished clearing the route yesterday.

Most of the snow in lower lying areas north of Upper Hutt has melted.

Graders and sweepers have successfully cleared the road north of Upper Hutt, which is the only route for motor vehicles between Wellington and Wairarapa.

Conditions on the road are deemed safe for driving but motorists are warned to take care and watch out for hazards such as black ice.

The New Zealand Transport Authority congratulated Fulton Hogan on its efforts to clear the road saying that the company made a magnificent effort responding to the once-in-a-lifetime weather event.

On the other side of the Rimutaka Hill in the Wairarapa, farmers are hoping for the weather will ease this week to prevent major stock losses.

Raymond Matthews says conditions have been cold and wet with 10cm of rain on his property south of Featherston.

“We haven’t had much snow but it has been very wet. We may have problems if the weather keeps up the way it does” he says.

“I have never seen anything like this before. Luckily we’ve only just started lambing so our stock are okay.”

Andrew Vallance farms east of Masterton and says he has not experienced weather like this in his 20 years in the industry.

“The impact will be dead sheep and feed is becoming scarce. My stock are cold, hungry and feed is in short supply.”

Greytown’s John Jury says the weather will hit farming profits due to loss of stock.

“The loss of lambs due to the conditions will be damaging as lambs are a large part of our profits.”

It is the first time in my 40 years of farming Wayne Thurston has had snow on the ground like this week.

“I am thankful we are past the bulk of calving and that my stock are in good health,” says Mr Thurston, a dairy farmer of Kahutara, west of Martinborough

“Others may be in trouble but we were lucky with our calves and if the weather only last till the weekend impacts will be minimal hopefully.”

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