Weather bomb lashes Wellington

19:19, Mar 03 2012
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Waves crash into Petone wharf.
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A storm hitting Wellington has made driving conditions difficult.
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Interislander ferry services have been cancelled today.
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Jacinta Hira-Wilson, left, lost power to her house in Wainuiomata when a fallen tree ripped the power cables from the house.
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Josephine Wagg, of Masterton, struggles with her umbrella in the gale southerly winds at Te Papa.
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A man watches waves crash into Lyall Bay.
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A passes through surface flooding in central Wellington.
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A council worker clears drains at Lyall Bay Parade.
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A firefighter was injured by a falling branch at a property in Fitzherbert St, Wainuiomata.
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A set of aircraft steps was blown over at Paraparaumu Airport this morning.
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Fallen branches partially blocked a lane on Sutherland Road, Melrose.
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Window was blown out of a house is on Lerwick Terace, Melrose.
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Firefighters work to pump water out of classrooms at Fernlea School.
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Danish backpacker Nina Norgaard Sorensen, 24, battles Wellington's gale winds on the waterfront.
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Power lines down in Moores Valley Rd, Wainuiomata.
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Firefighters clean up a classroom at Fernlea School.
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Waves crash over the road in Lowry Bay.
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Firemen remove a tree that fell on Newlands Road.

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A firefighter has been injured by a falling branch as a storm rips through Wellington, causing the Hutt River to burst its banks.

The storm has brought down power lines, blown over trees and forced yachts from their moorings as gusts in the area reached 93kmh.

The MetService said a new low was forming off the east coast of the lower North Island.

Fire Service central communications shift manager Murray Dunbar said it had been a "full on'' morning for firefighters in central New Zealand. "We haven't had a large weather event like this for quite a while.''

The Fire Service had received 268 emergency calls since 6am today, including 52 weather-related incidents in Wellington.

The storm has also caused significant damage in Taranaki.

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LATEST DEVELOPMENTS

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An electricity worker has been taken to hospital with moderate burns after being shocked while working on a substation in Upper Hutt.

- Steve Lacey, a resident in Moores Valley Rd, Wainuiomata, said a tree had fallen bringing down powerlines. He believed about a 100 residents could be without power. "It was a beauty bang. I sat up and [then] boom.''

- A firefighter suffered back injuries after a branch hit her shoulder during an incident in Wainuiomata.

- The Hutt River has burst its banks on Harcourt Werry Dr near the golf course and was partially covering the north bound lane of the road. "It appears to be areasonable distance from homes, Inspector Paul Jermy said. The weather would have to get "quite a bit worse'' before homes were affected, he said.

- Four classrooms have been flooded in the junior block at Fernlea School in Wainuiomata. Two were badly flooded with about 20mm of water across the carpet, said principal Walter Gordon. He said the rooms should be cleaned up for school on Monday.

- A tree fell onto a road in Wainuiomata bringing powerlines down and causing a car to crash into it, but the driver escaped unscathed, police said.

- The Fire Service as been called to reports of flooding at Fernlea School in Wainuiomata.

- There is surface flooding around several streets in Wainuiomata.

- A tree has also fallen in Ngaio Gorge Road and a yacht has broken its mooring at the Clyde Quay Marina in Wellington.

- The exit to Block Road from State Highway 2 is closed due to flooding.

- Passengers flying in and out of Wellington could also face delays after several flights were cancelled this morning.

NEW STORM BREWING

MetService meteorologist Daniel Corbett said the initial low, which wreaked havoc in Whanganui and Taranaki, was slowly dying out as it moved across land. However, a new low was forming off the east coast of the lower North Island.

In the last couple of hours, a wind gust of 148kmh was recorded at Mt Kaukau while the strongest recorded wind gust at the Wellington Airport was 96kmh.

Castlepoint on the exposed east coast had recorded a maximum gust of about 140kmh.

Mr Corbett said Wellington could expect severe gales and rain to continue this afternoon before easing this evening.

The Wairarapa would be the worst affected area in the Wellington region, he said.

Mr Corbett said the "weather bomb'' had gone according to forecasts,

FIREFIGHTER INJURED

Fitzherbert Rd resident Paul Collins said a firefighter from the Wainuiomata Volunteer Fire Brigade suffered back injuries at his home after a branch fell and hit her on the shoulder.

Mr Collins said a fireman was cutting branches off a tree that had "split'' and was leaning on his house when the incident happened about 10am.

The trunk of the tree "gave way and basically the branch did a little twisted and hit one of the Fire Service people. She copped it fair on the shoulder".

"She was on the ground and they put a tent around her to look after her. They did all the proper procedures.

"We could hear that she was crying. My condolences go out to her family really. It was something as simple as cutting branches off a tree and someone's got injured. It's upsetting."

Mr Collins said a firefighter told him the incident would be investigated by the Department of Labour.

WORKER GETS ELECTRIC SHOCK

An electricity worker has been taken to hospital with moderate burns after getting a shock while working on a substation in Upper Hutt.

The man is thought to be in his 40s and is a linesman for Wellington Electricity.

Just before 2pm he was working at the substation at Gemstone Dr, Birchville, responding to number of outages that had occured in the area because of trees and branches falling on power lines.

Wellington Electricity spokesman Drew Douglas said the incident would be investigated by the company.

Wellington Free Ambulance spokesman David Ross said man was taken to Hutt Hospital emergency department by ambulance with moderate burns and was conscious and alert when paramedics arrived.

A SLEEPLESS NIGHT

Wainuiomata resident Jacinta Hira-Wilson had a sleepness night as high winds howled through her section uprooting a large tree in her backyard, cutting power and ripping guttering from the roof her home in Totara St.

"Very, very strong winds. I was awake most of the night listening to the wind and the rain so I've hardly had any sleep, but we're alive so that's the main thing.”

EVENTS AND SERVICES AFFECTED

WHAT IS A WEATHER BOMB?

Yesterday, Civil Defence warned a weather bomb - which involves a rapid decrease in air pressure producing high winds and heavy rain - would hit the area.

"This deep, deep low will barrel in like a bull in a china shop with potentially damaging winds," MetService forecaster Daniel Corbett said.

The weather system was like a cord-propelled spinning top that would uncoil over the region, swirling in a clockwise band before calming by nightfall, he said.

MetService also stressed the severity of the front, carried on an intense low-pressure system from the Tasman Sea, and issued 20 storm warnings yesterday, saying southerly winds could gust to 150kmh in coastal Wairarapa, the Nelson region and Marlborough. Gales would reach 140kmh in Taranaki. Gusts to 120kmh were predicted for surrounding regions.