25 May 2014

Wild weather causes havoc in south

5:38 am on 25 May 2014

Wild weather in the lower South Island has toppled trees and power lines - some on to cars - and brought down part of a building facade in central Invercargill.

The collapsed façade of a building in central Invercargill.

The collapsed façade of a building in central Invercargill. Photo: NZ POLICE

Police say part of the brick facade on a building in Tay Street collapsed on to the road just before 2pm, in what's believed to be a weather-related incident. No-one was hurt.

The Bluff Oyster Festival was cancelled after high winds began to lift marquees. Motorists leaving the area were then delayed by the closure of State Highway 1 between Bluff and Invercargill after strong winds brought power lines down on a car.

Bad weather continued to cause havoc elsewhere in the south, with dozens of weather-related calls to the Fire Service in Southland and Otago.

If you would like to share pictures or video of the storm with us, please email it to iwitness@radionz.co.nz

A woman was taken to hospital in Dunedin with neck injuries after a tree came down on her car on Saturday afternoon. A Fire Service spokesperson says the incident happened just before 4pm in Puddle Alley, north Taieri.

The Transport Agency is also warning of strong winds on State Highway 1 between Dunedin and Gore, and similar warnings are in place for parts of state highways 87, 90, and 8.

The bad weather was expected to continue over southern New Zealand, with a significant cold outbreak from Sunday afternoon.

Snow was expected to fall to low levels on Sunday night and may disrupt travel in parts of Southland and Otago, the forecaster said.

Meanwhile, the Transport Agency began work on Saturday to clear a slip blocking Arthur's Pass on State Highway 73 between Canterbury and the West Coast. Heavy rain caused the slip on Friday and the agency said the road may be closed for several more days.

The agency said said motorists travelling between the West Coast and Canterbury should travel via the Lewis Pass on State Highway 7, but warned high winds were also expected there.

Further south, the Haast Pass remained shut after a planned closure to deal with an older slip at Diana Falls.

Power cut to thousands of North Island homes

Strong winds in the lower North Island have torn roofing from homes, brought down trees and cut power to thousands of properties.

Lines company PowerCo said it had restored power to around 1700 consumers in over the past two days, but about 2800 properties remained without power in Wairarapa and Tararua districts on Saturday night.

Strong winds were continuing to bring trees down across overhead lines and field crews had been working to repair the damage.

PowerCo expected the majority of customers to have power restored on Saturday night.

Police urged motorists to drive to the conditions after poor weather has been blamed for accidents in Wellington and Wairarapa.

Near Mount Bruce in Wairarapa, a trailer flipped after being caught by a gust of wind on State Highway 2, while in Wellington a car hit the median barrier in slippery conditions on the motorway north of Lower Hutt. No one was injured in the incidents.

South Wairarapa mayor Adrienne Staples said wind had gusted up to about 130 km/h and roofing iron had lifted from at least three buildings.

Heavy rain and wind warnings are in place for much of the country over the weekend.

MetService is forecasting severe northwesterly gales for Hawke's Bay south of Napier, Wairarapa, Wellington, Marlborough, and Canterbury. The west of the South Island and the Tararua Range in the North Island are in for heavy rain.