Severe gales are battering the upper North Island tonight as the big winter storm moves into it’s 6th day. The gales are blasting Auckland with gusts to 132km/h being reported at the Manukau Heads and the Weather Watch Centre estimates gusts are reaching at least that on the Harbour Bridge and around 120km/h at times in exposed suburbs.
“This is violent weather”, says head weather analyst Philip Duncan, “It’s potentially very dangerous and residents should be on high alert all night with winds not expected to ease until Sunday”.
“Motorists should take extreme care in Auckland tonight and those driving high sided vehicles or motorbikes should avoid using the Harbour Bridge”.
Big squally showers are gathering strength in the Tasman Sea tonight and are expected to bring localised heavy downpours and severe gales to coastal regions from Taranaki to Northland.
“There’s another pool of heavy showers with isolated thunderstorms in the central Tasman Sea and they’re expected to move over northern New Zealand overnight and tomorrow morning”.
Duncan says the winds are strong enough to partially lift roofs, bring down power lines and uproot trees. “If you can avoid being outdoors tonight and tomorrow morning we strongly suggest that”.
The Weather Watch Centre’s lightning detector has recorded 241 strikes in the past 60 minutes, mostly out in the Tasman Sea but moving towards northern New Zealand.
Duncan says the winter storm will probably end up affecting the country for a total of 8 days – dying out completely by Monday as a high pressure system moves in from Australia.
“The next frontal system should bring more rain to the hydro lakes on Wednesday with strong, warm, nor’westers moving into the South Island around the same time”.