14 Oct 2012

Stormy weather to ease on Sunday

5:32 am on 14 October 2012

Severe weather that brought heavy rain, high winds and snow to many parts of the country on Saturday is expected to ease by mid-morning on Sunday.

MetService forecaster Gerard Barrow said heavy rain in most areas would ease throughout the night, but snow was expected on the Desert Road and the South Island mountain passes and high winds continued to affect many parts of the country.

The weather service issued severe weather warnings of strong winds for northern, central and eastern areas of the North Island until Sunday morning. Strong southwesterly gales were also expected in coastal areas of Canterbury.

The storm, which blew in from the Tasman Sea, caused high winds and power outages in Auckland and triggered a massive slip that sent huge boulders crashing down onto Milford Road in Fiordland.

The Transport Agency advised motorists to carry chains on mountain passes. It says there was snow at Arthur's Pass and on the Lewis Pass on Saturday as well as Porters Pass and the Lindis Pass.

MetService said on Saturday that at least 100mm of rain had fallen on the West Coast and in northwest Nelson since about 9pm on Friday.

Christchurch City Council closed the old Waimakariri bridge in Canterbury due to heavy rainfall and rising river levels as the downpours spilled over into the Canterbury headwaters.

The council says the bridge on Main North Road was closed at 4pm on Saturday and river levels would be closely monitored throughout the night. The closure did not affect the main Waimakariri Bridge on State Highway 1.

Rivers rising on West Coast

West Coast Regional Council advised people to be aware of rapidly rising rivers as heavy rain swept up the South Island.

The Buller River was being monitored closely and was expected to go through levels triggering early warnings and then continue rising.

The Hokitika and Waihou rivers reached early flood warning levels and were expected to peak on Saturday and then drop.

The police urged high-sided vehicles to take extreme care on West Coast roads, particularly from Harihari through to Franz Josef on State Highway 6.

Surface flooding was also causing issues for motorists.

MetService says northern Canterbury and eastern Marlborough could expect gusts of wind up to 130km per hour and snow in the Canterbury and Otago high country could fall as low as 300 metres.

Gales and rain lash many parts of North Island

The Fire Service in Auckland was inundated with weather related call outs on Saturday after strong gusts hit the area.

There was also heavy rain about the central high country of the North Island, Mt Taranaki and the Tararua ranges and severe gales up to 130km per hour in many places.

Metservice says the bad weather started to ease on Saturday night but snow was expected on the Desert Road on Sunday.