2 Dec 2019

Heavy wind and rain on the way, risk of flooding - NIWA

11:38 am on 2 December 2019

Summer is officially underway but it's a wet and windy start for some parts of the country.

motion car rain big puddle of water spray from the wheels

Photo: 123RF

NIWA meteorologist Chris Brandolino told Morning Report heavy rainfall is on its way for the west of the South Island and the lower North Island.

"[It] is certainly a horse of a different colour - just some very heavy rainfall, that's the simplest way to describe it."

While the region is familiar with rain in December, this is weather out of the ordinary, he said.

Risk of flooding

A flow of air is coming up the Tasman, which is unusually warm for this time of the year, Mr Brandolino said. Over 500mm of rainfall is expected in the higher areas over the next 48 hours.

"If you're near a river, or near a stream, the risk for flooding is certainly going to be elevated this week because there's going to be multiple episodes of rainfall."

Rain events will be spread throughout the week, he said.

"It's the West Coast of the South Island that gets the lions share."

As water makes its way down from the Alps to the eastern parts of Canterbury water levels may rise despite the region seeing less rainfall on the ground, he said.

There'll be strong wind gusts as well, he said, starting this afternoon on the West Coast.

"Wellington tomorrow could be a really windy day, even for Wellington standards."

The Indian Ocean Dipole is unusually strong and it's at the steering wheel of mother nature's car for this month, he said.

"That will relinquish its power some time in January.

"Until that happens, the West Coast of the South Island is going to be a pretty wet and unsettled place to be."

Road crews poised to respond

The Transport Agency says it has road crews on standby ahead of forecast heavy weather on the West Coast and in Nelson-Tasman.

MetService has issued heavy rain warnings for the top of the South Island, which has recently had several highways blocked by slips, brought down in bad weather.

A 59-year-old Canterbury man died last month when a boulder smashed through his vehicle's windscreen on State Highway 6 near Murchison.

A Transport Agency spokesperson said the hill above has since had loose rocks removed.

She said crews are on standby given the forecast, and are keeping a close watch on the area, plus other parts of the highway nearby that were recently closed due to slips.

The Nelson, Marlborough and Tasman councils have received official heavy rain warnings and all are watching what happens.