Wellington Airport was this afternoon advising travellers that flights were being disrupted by today’s high winds. It was telling travellers to check with their airlines or the airport website. But by early evening, the airport was closed for all domestic flights.
RadioNZ reports that more than 1,000 homes have lost power in the Wellington region tonight because of the stormy weather. The worst-hit area was Johnsonville, where at least 900 homes were without power.
News from NZ Fire Service
As today’s severe gales head north, Wellington fire crews are braced ready to respond. Area Manager Peter Dempsey says the region is fairly hardened and other recent storms may well have brought down many vulnerable trees. “However, we always have the ability to bring in additional resources if they are needed to deal with emergency situations,” he said.
The gales have left a trail of fire and destruction in Canterbury. This morning, three helicopters are dumping water on a fire in the Ashley Forest in North Canterbury. Principal Rural Fire Officer Allan Grigg said “Latest reports are that the bit of rain we’ve had has helped and that the fire is no longer the raging monster it was. We had one report last night of it appearing to have a five kilometre front. It is being fought on two flanks with heavy machinery digging fire breaks. We will bring in ground crews this afternoon when the wind drops.”
Kaikoura firefighters are this morning tackling a house fire, while a rural crew is attacking a small fire in a plantation inland from the town. In South Canterbury crews are responding to a fire in a tree line in South Eyre Road .
The Fire Service Southern Communications Centre Operations Manager Chris Munro reports the number of calls has dropped significantly and crews are now able to respond to the many reports of trees fallen onto power lines, houses and roads. Between 2.30pm yesterday and 5.54am this morning there were over 1800 emergency calls relating to the weather.
News from MetService – September 10
Northwest winds in Wellington are expected to rise to severe gales, gusting 140km/h late this afternoon, easing early Thursday morning. Winds of this strength are likely to bring down trees and powerlines, and make driving dangerous, especially for motorcycles and high sided vehicles.
In Canterbury: Police are urging people not to travel due to the severe weather and road conditions. Christchurch City is also being affected by the storm, with numerous reports of power lines and trees down, roofs being lifted and flying debris making it dangerous for motorists and pedestrians.
News from MetService – September 9
A severe weather warning was issued today, with a forecast of gales expected to reach the lower North Island on Tuesday.
An active front is set to approach the South Island tomorrow, before moving northeast to reach the lower North Island late on Wednesday. The front is preceded by very strong northwesterly winds. Severe northwest gales with gusts of 120-140km per hour are likely on Tuesday afternoon ahead of the front in the east from Wairarapa down through Wellington and on to Canterbury and into Otago, Fiordland and Southland.
From the middle of the week, strong winds and wet weather are focused on the North Island. A severe weather watch for heavy rain in Mt Taranaki, the Tararua Range, the central North Island high country and eastern Bay of Plenty has been issued; also for prospects of very strong winds in Hawke’s Bay.
“It’s a real smorgasbord of weather this week, with gales, heavy rain and some pretty active thunderstorms in places,” said MetService communications meteorologist John Law. “The best advice for this week is to really keep an eye on the forecasts and warnings.”