7 Sep 2016

Wild weather topples trees and cuts power

11:49 pm on 7 September 2016

Two people have been taken to hospital after gale force winds brought a tree down onto a car near Christchurch.

The Fire Service said the pair were taken to hospital by ambulance after the incident in Tai Tapu.

Strong winds have toppled a tree onto the road at The Gardens Corner, Dunedin.

Strong winds have toppled a tree onto the road at The Gardens Corner in Dunedin. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

Several hundred homes in Canterbury were without power as gusts of up to 120 km/h hit the area.

Up to 3000 homes had been without power earlier in the evening.

The Fire Service was kept busy responding to reports of damage including damaged roofs and trees.

Wind gusts of up to 161 km/h were recorded at Le Bons Bay in Banks Peninsula, MetService said.

Strong wind warnings were in place for a vast stretch of the east coast, from the Wairarapa down to Waipapa Point in Southland.

Those areas could expect severe gales with gusts of up to 120km/h in exposed places, from now until tomorrow night, MetService said.

In the Wairarapa, gusts could rise to up to 140km/h.

Heavy snow falls were expected on several South Island roads by midday on Thursday, with 10-15cm of snow forecast for parts of Porters Pass, and 1-2cm on Lindis Pass and Milford Road.

Severe winds cut power to 380 Otago homes earlier, but lines company Aurora Energy said it had since been restored to almost all of the affected homes.

There were still a few customers in Broad Bay, Company Bay and Portobello without power, and some isolated outages in Dunedin, and customers should be ready for the possibility of further power outages, it said.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council said snow had fallen on the Crown Range.

In Dunedin, St Clair buses were diverted to another route because of a fallen power pole on Forbury Road, Otago Regional Council said.

More snow on the way

Duty meteorologist Peter Little said the weather would be "bitterly cold" for the next 24 hours.

A heavy snow warning was in place for Taupo and Taihape, where snow could fall down to 300m above sea level, he said.

Snow was also forecast to fall on most of the South Island passes, as well as the Desert Road and the Rimutaka Hill Road.

The Transport Agency said the West Coast had large coastal swells in the past day, and swells of up to four metres were also forecast for the Kaikoura coast.

Drivers crossing all alpine passes were advised to carry chains as a precaution.

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