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Wild winds batter Wellington

Wind gusts of up to 140km/h are battering central New Zealand today, damaging powerlines and properties in Wellington, disrupting flights and prompting a warning to drivers.

Severe wind warnings have been issued, as gale northwesterlies of up to 140km/h hit Wellington, Wairarapa and Marlborough.

The gales are expected to ease in Marlborough early this afternoon, Wellington this evening and Wairarapa tonight.

Government meteorologists said the gusts had reached 110km/h at Wellington Airport this morning. The gales were even stronger about the hills, with gusts of 130km/h on the Rimutaka Hill and 140km/h at Mt Kaukau.

There was still more to come, with the wind expected to pick up further before easing later today.

Wellington Airport spokeswoman Briarley Kirk said some flights had been disrupted due to high winds.

“We ask that all travellers check with their airline or on the Wellington Airport website at on their flights status.”

The website showed a number of flights had been delayed, diverted or cancelled.

A Fire Service communications spokesman said there had been about 10 callouts related to the wind in Wellington and the Hutt Valley this morning.

None were major, with most due to downed powerlines. A couple of calls were to loose scaffolding and another was to a verandah that was “blowing away”.

Police central communications spokesman Bruce Mackay said there had been no weather-related calls today, with no reports of incidents on the Rimutaka Hill.

He advised motorists to take care driving in the wind.

“People in the smaller vehicles and high-sided vehicles have to be pretty vigilant. Generally we just say look, unless you really want to go anywhere, if it gets to high winds, then just leave it to another day.”

Weatherwatch head analyst Philip Duncan says a very active spring-like front was bringing the gales and heavy rain to parts of central New Zealand.

The front has made for some dramatic contrasts in the weather today – from over 300mm of rain in the Westland ranges, to sunshine and 28C with warm northwest winds in Gisborne.

Tomorrow should  be a quieter day weather-wise in many places, but another spell of wet weather would move in from the west during the evening.

The wet weather would clear away to the east by the end of Sunday, bringing a fine and settled day for much of the country on Monday.

Next week would see a continuation of the unsettled pattern of wet weather.

Heavy rain warnings remain in place for the ranges of Buller, northwest Nelson and the Tararua Ranges.

Forecasts are picking up to 50mm more rain in the ranges of Buller and northwest Nelson by 1pm today, and up to 80mm of rain was possible in the Tararua Ranges within a six-hour period this afternoon and evening.

Heavy rain in Westland, Fiordland, and the headwaters of the Canterbury and Otago lakes and rivers has eased and warnings have been lifted.

NZ Herald


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