Wellington is in cleanup mode today after a storm which packed damaging winds gusting at 170kmh in exposed places.
MetService meteorologist Ian Gall said northwesterly gusts peaked at 170kmh on Mt Kaukau and the Rimutaka Hill yesterday afternoon, while Kelburn had gusts of 140kmh.
Yesterday's weather caused the cancellation of about 59 return Air New Zealand Link services and 17 return domestic jet services into and out of Wellington.
More than 8000 passengers were affected by the cancellations. They will be reaccommodated on alternative services.
A Jetstar spokesman said 10 flights in and out of Wellington were cancelled yesterday, disrupting about 1200 passengers.
They were being put on regularly-scheduled flights, as well as two extra return flights between Auckland and Wellington, today with the backlog expected to be cleared by late this afternoon.
About 20,000 properties in Wairarapa, Manawatu, Whanganui and South Taranaki lost power yesterday. Of those, about 3000 remained off at 10am today.
Powerco network operations manager Phil Marsh said 70 field staff were working to restore power, with 20 more on their way.
Most were expected to be back on today. People should beware of live wires on the ground, he said.
In the Wellington area of the more than 1500 Wellington homes which lost power yesterday, fewer than 300 were still without power at 9am today.
Worst affected was Moores Valley in Hutt Valley, which had 128 homes off, followed by nearby areas Normandale with 73 off, then Horokiwi with 49 still off.
Contractors were out at first light trying to cleara large tree, which had fallen down across Massey Rd, Shelly Bay, on Miramar Peninsula.
The tree will not be cleared until later today.
Wellington City Council spokesman Richard MacLean said a digger had to be brought in because a large root up the bank would fall of workers started chain sawing the tree.
He expected phones to run hot today as peoplecame across damage after receiving "several hundred" calls after the storm hit.
"It really ramped up in the afternoon to evening.''
SCAFFOLD CRASH SITE
Mr MacLean was on Willis St early this morning inspecting a site where three storeys of scaffolding was blown down yesterday afternoon, hurting nobody but causing bus disruptions as the road was blocked.
The road was now clear. Diggers were this morning protecting the building site.
Loanne Newell was sitting on a bench outside the Grand Arcade in Willis St when the scaffolding rig collapsed right next to her.
"A strong gust of wind came along and bang - it was this burst and racket," she said. "I got my shopping bag and ran."
Then the rig toppled. "Within split seconds, the whole thing came down . . . It sounded very strong, like a jumbo jet, a very strong, scary, noisy gust."
Wayne Kennedy was at work on the top floor of the State Insurance Building, opposite the scaffold, when it collapsed about 4.30pm.
"We heard the noise and then we looked out and saw what'd happened . . . fortunately it had blown inwards, and not outwards on to the road and all the people."
Passers-by could easily have been killed if it had collapsed into the street, he said. "It still could, because the wind could catch all those loose bits."
Police and firefighters cordoned off the site and closed the street to traffic, rerouting buses through Boulcott St and Victoria St.
Further up the same street, wind blew out a glass shopfront right into the path of a pedestrian.
Wellingtonian Duncan MacLeod was hit by a pane of flying glass as he walked past Pandoro Panetteria, on the corner of Willis and Bond streets, just after 7.30pm.
"All of a sudden there was a huge gust from the front and the wind pushed me back and the window burst out, just the bottom first, and then the top crashed down," he said.
"I got a little bit of the side dropped on my arm . . . then there was another gust and that dropped out too."
Mr MacLeod escaped with minor scratches on one arm.
Mr MacLean said people should take extra caution this morning as broken windows and other debris were possibly still lying around.
It was too early to estimate the cost of the cleanup, he said.
Early today there was heavy traffic heading from Miramar Peninsula into town heading towards the city.
A police spokesman said the traffic was caused by people heading from the airport after delayed flights yesterday mixed with commuters and end of school holiday traffic.
KiwiRail had services on the Wairarapa line replaced by buses this morning because of a tree on the line.
A KiwiRail spokeswoman said all other lines had the all clear after early inspections today.
The Sea Princess cruise ship, which stayed out of Wellington during the storm, has docked this morning 24 hours later than planned.
The MetService forecast for Wellington today is morning rain, then fine in the afternoon. The northerly wind is expected to turn to a southerly and a high of 14 degrees C is expected.
A bus driver walked away unscathed after winds forced his bus off the road and into a paddock. See video of incident here.
Four adults and two children escaped injury after their campervan was blown over north of Mt Bruce, on State Highway 2, just after 2pm.
A truck on SH2 was overturned north of Masterton shortly before 11am.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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