Windy Wellington – a cabbage tree knocked about by severe gales today. Photo by Sally of Wellington.
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SEVERE GALES have significantly eased across the Wellington region this afternoon following a stormy morning that saw gusts to 170km/h on the surrounding hills and up to 120km/h downtown. The strong winds cancelled flights, damaged property and closed roads.
The blustery winds have crept north with gales now spreading into Taranaki, Hawkes Bay, Gisborne & East Cape, and some exposed regions around Auckland.
Head weather analyst Philip Duncan says while the wind gusts aren’t too high in the north the average wind speed is certainly a solid force. “We’re seeing winds at gale force, or close to gale force, right over the upper North Island making driving a difficult for some”. Mr Duncan doesn’t believe there’ll be a repeat of Wellington’s nasty weather further north but says some gusts will still pack a punch. “Suburbs around Auckland are reporting gusts up to 90km/h”.
“We expect this to peak between now and 6pm and combined with heavy rain it could make tonight’s commute a lot rougher than this mornings drive in”.
Mr Duncan says the gusty conditions will affect exposed regions and gusts to 120 even 130km/h are still possible on the Harbour Bridge and amongst the high rise buildings however he doesn’t expect winds to be gusting anywhere near that for most suburbs. “It’ll be definitely windy but certainly no record breaker – however we’re reminding pedestrians to take care at traffic lights as sudden gusts could blow you onto the street”.
The strong nor’westers have delivered some high temperatures across the eastern part of the North Island. For the third time in as many weeks the Weather Watch Centre independently forecast highs in the mid 20s for Hawkes Bay and this afternoon Napier reached 24. Warm conditions remain over the north too with 20 in Auckland and 21 in Whangarei.
The main band of rain is now moving into Auckland and Waikato with the gales and heavy rain expected to ease tonight.
Dark clouds rolling in – photo from the Weather Watch Centre’s weather camera on Cook Street.
Tomorrow a strong westerly will spread across the entire country lasting for the rest of the week.