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Significant wind event on Sunday/Monday for NZ, gusts to 160km/h possible

It’s spring – and it’s the time of year gales howl in from the west and on Sunday damaging gusts well above hurricane force (or severe gale) are possible in some exposed parts of central, eastern and inland New Zealand.

Areas likely to be worst affected are Canterbury, Marlborough, Southland, Otago and Wairarapa/Wellington with possibly Canterbury most exposed to the biggest winds. Gusts will be between 120km/h and 160km/h in exposed places through these regions for a time on Sunday PM.

A high to the north of NZ and a deep low just to our south are the reasons for the squeezing of air pressure over the country – and the Southern Alps and Cook Strait areas only fuel those winds to higher speeds.

These winds have the potential to be damaging to buildings, powerlines and trees and will likely cause travel delays for motorists, flights and Cook Strait ferry services over Sunday and Monday.

Worst winds build across Sunday afternoon and night and turn more south to south west on Monday morning in a number of southern and eastern areas – and eases by Monday afternoon for a time.

State owned forecaster MetService has already issued several warnings – with both and MetService on the same page as far as this event is concerned.  MetService is forecasting winds may hit 160km/h “or possibly more” which is an incredibly rare forecast speed – but it is possible due to the intense squeeze being put on the weather systems coupled with the Southern Alps. supports all the warnings issued by MetService for this event.

Those in eastern and central areas of the country are urged to keep up with all their weather warnings will also have special updates on Sunday PM and Monday AM for this event.




Tim on 3/10/2015 9:37pm

Hi guys,

I see in most long term weather forecasts there is virtually sign of moisture for Canterbury.

Is this what you guys would see as the beginning and probable continuation of several months of norwest conditions with basically no rain?

We’ve all been dreading this change in weather patterns arriving.

Or do you see it as more of just an arrival of spring before a bit more calmer settled weather arrives?

WW Forecast Team on 3/10/2015 11:49pm

Hi Tim, thanks for the question.  Understand and appreciate the dread yourself and many others in the east of NZ have at the moment as we creep towards an El Nino Summer.  One thing has maintained for the past two years (since the first talk of El Nino came in) is that NZ can buck the trend, being small, and being located where we are.  The current rain stats across NZ don’t really show much of El Nino thanks to the wet easterly we just had…so there are silver linings to some of the gloomy forecasts.  

Now is the time to monitor what happens – it’s very normal for Canterbury to be windy and very dry in spring, so what we are now focused on are the highs near Sydney/Tasman Sea area and the potential for rain making lows crossing NZ, especially lows close to our east coast which can bring in rain.  Too early to see if this change is the big change or just part of the normal dry windy phases we see at this time of year.

Sorry we can’t be more definite! I think we’ll be in better position to make a stronger call in a couple of weeks.

Philip Duncan

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