13 May 2016

Stormy weather sweeps up the country

1:06 pm on 13 May 2016

Strong winds that have cut power and downed trees in the lower half of the country are due to ease this morning but gales are expected in Wairarapa and Hawke's Bay.

In Wellington, the Fire Service was kept busy overnight dealing with roofs lifting and trees falling in northern suburbs. In the eastern suburbs, fallen power lines blocked one lane on State Highway 1 on Cobham Drive, Kilbirnie.

Power was cut to some 3500 households in the Wellington and Upper Hutt regions overnight but most were reconnected by 8am. About 170 homes in Manawatu, Tarararua and Wairarapa were still cut off.

The Rimutaka Hill Road between Wellington and Wairarapa was closed overnight due to high winds. The road reopened about 6am.

In the South Island, State Highway 6 through the Haast Pass reopened this morning, after trees toppled on the road by severe winds forced its closure yesterday.

Other South Island highways are affected by high winds but remain open: drivers are warned to take care on State Highway 79 from Geraldine to Fairlie, SH 73 Springfield to Arthurs Pass and Porters Pass, SH 7 Springs Junction to Hanmer Springs and SH1 Kaikoura to Blenheim.

The northwest gales with gusts of 140 km/h are expected to ease by mid morning in Canterbury, Marlborough and Wellington, MetService says.

However, westerly gales gusting 120 km/h are expected to develop in Wairarapa and Central Hawkes Bay this afternoon.

MetService has also warned that Westland, south of Otira, is due for another burst of heavy rain and thunderstorms this afternoon.

Yesterday a vehicle overturned on SH73 and another rolled on SH79 but no injuries were reported.

The severe weather in the South Island yesterday also sparked fires in Canterbury, caused surface flooding in Southland, forced the cancellation of some flights in and out of Dunedin and of ferry services from Wellington.

MetService says further periods of heavy rain and west to northwest gales are likely to affect parts of southern and central New Zealand through to early next week.