A powerful winter storm that has sparked 20 severe weather warnings has knocked down an elderly woman on the Kapiti Coast, caused disruption on the Auckland harbour Bridge and made the search for a Canterbury possum hunter even more difficult.
Twenty severe weather warnings have been issued by Metservice, and while many areas have a lull in the rough weather today, forecasters are warning that the stormy weather is not done with New Zealand yet.
Weatherwatch.co.nz has warned of thunderstorms, with the risk of hail, damaging winds and isolated small tornadoes for the entire western coastline of New Zealand this weekend.
Strong winds have already seen an elderly woman taken to Wellington hospital after she was knocked off her feet near the Waikanae River mouth on the Kapiti Coast.
Local resident Laurie Petherick told nznerald.co.nz the woman was walking her dog along the coastline when she was knocked down.
“There were some small waterspouts forming out to sea, and this one just came in suddenly. It was a whirlwind of sand and spray and it just picked her up and smacked her down.”
Mr Petherick said the woman took a blow to the head and was taken to Wellington Hospital.
Soon afterwards, the sun was shining again on the kapiti Coast, he said.
“One minute it’s fine and the next thing you know there are 40-50 knot gusts. You often see waterspouts forming in this area, but the whirlwind I saw today was one of the worst I’ve seen in the area in eight or nine years.”
Further north, traffic on the Auckland Harbour Bridge was disrupted when a display trailer was blown over by a gust on the clip-on lanes on the Harbour Bridge.
Police soon arrived and began clearing up the scene. No other car was involved and no one was injured.
Meanwhile, in Canterbury, strong north-west winds are expected to interfere with helicopter operations in the search for a missing possum hunter.
An RNZAF Iroquois has been assisting with the recovery of search teams who are looking for 83-year-old Alan Hill, missing since he went into the Ashley Gorge area, north west of Christchurch, on Wednesday morning to set possum traps.
Weatherwatch.co.nz says winds remain light in the Christchurch area, although there is an active wind warning predicting gusts of 130km/h.
Showers in Auckland have significantly eased today, with just a couple of showers currently remaining around the Auckland region, although they are expected to increase later today and into Sunday.
Strong winds will also spread north today, with gales likely across many exposed North Island areas during Sunday and Monday.
WeatherWatch.co.nz analyst Philip Duncan said the next burst of severe weather should ease around Tuesday with conditions improving further towards the end of next week.
“This is all the result of this huge storm in the southern ocean, which should be hanging around for 10-12 days.”
on 9/07/2011 8:05pm
yeah how it the state of it! the super city seems to have super powers lately, any good thunder storm lines seem to split apart and pass either side of us just for a laugh
on 9/07/2011 3:49pm
03:50 and it’s arrived in Auckland. Heavy rain and quite an impressive lightning display from what i can see through the cameras
on 9/07/2011 2:02pm
Just took a look at the lightning radar, could hardly see NZ!
@01:55 Sunday, there were 1726 strikes in the preceeding hour with a peak of 55!
And as normal these days, not much of it in Auckland!