Heavy rain causes flooding, slips in Wellington

Workers clear a slip on Mairangi Rd.
Workers clear a slip on Mairangi Rd.
Motorists drive through flooding on Cobham Drive in Kilbirnie.
Motorists drive through flooding on Cobham Drive in Kilbirnie.
Flooding on Cobham Drive in Kilbirnie delayed motorists.
Flooding on Cobham Drive in Kilbirnie delayed motorists.
Flooding on roads in Wadestown.
Flooding on roads in Wadestown.
A pedestrian struggles with the wind and rain.
A pedestrian struggles with the wind and rain.

A  ''bracing southerly'' is set to blow through Wellington later tonight bringing thunder to the capital and hail to Wairarapa.

MetService meteorologist Dan Corbett said the front had just hit Christchurch with rain, thunderstorms and strong winds and was forecast  to move through Wellington sometime between 8pm and 11pm this evening.

''It will bring strong gusty winds and outbreaks of rain with perhaps some thunder. The greater risk for thunderstorms and small hail will be east in the Wairarapa,'' Mr Corbett said.

Strong winds and rain are set to ease overnight making way for a fine and dry day tomorrow with a high of 12 degress Celsius.

The front follows heavy rain this morning that caused flooding and slips in the capital.

The Johnsonville train line reopened mid afternoon after a slip on the line this morning.

Heavy rain between 8am and 9am caused surface flooding and slips with the council receiving about about 190 weather-related calls.

Incidents from the flooding:

  • Cobham Drive in Kilbirnie was flooded both directions.
  • All buses in Wellington were delayed by 15 minutes.
  • A slip closed the Johnsonville line.
  • A slip blocked Mairangi Rd in Wadestown.
  • There was a large slip in Churchill Drive near the railway overbridge
  • Reports of manhole covers blown off by the heavy water flows

Richard Davidson from Downer contractors said they received a string of calls about eight different slips about 9.30am.

The two largest were at Mairangi Rd and Churchill Dr in the Wadestown area.

Council staff were still working on the slip and road was reduced to one lane, but was expected to be cleared in the next few hours. 

The slip on Mairangi Rd had dumped between 30 and 40 cubic metres of dirt on the road and left a deck partially hanging.

The Churchill Dr slip had dumped between 50 and 60 cubic metres of dirt.

Mr Davidson said they were prioritising the busiest roads to get them cleared for traffic.

Police central communications spokeswoman Robyn Rice said there were flooding issues and call-outs "everywhere" in Wellington due to this morning's heavy rain.

Commuter Kirsty Fyfe said the slip on Mairangi Rd was blocking the whole road and she and other drivers had to turn around.

"I was trying to get through. It's on the school run route. All the cars had to turn around," she said.

There were also issues on the train lines due to a slip in Wadestown, which closed the Johnsonville line until about 2:30pm. TranzMetro arranged bus replacements.

A KiwiRail spokeswoman said while only a small amount of earth had ended up on the tracks, they had excavated above the site to remove more unstable hillside and prevent further slips, making the work take longer than expected.

The heavy rain had also caused some surface flooding further down the tracks, which had damaged the track foundation. That had also been repaired.

Cobham Drive in Kilbirnie was flooded causing severe delays on the road. Water levels dropped by about 10.30am.

Miramar resident Stephanie Bell said she spent more than an hour trying to get out of Miramar before giving up because of gridlocked traffic. "There were literally hundreds and hundreds of people sitting in their cars."

The Wellington City Council said the heavy rain caused surface flooding on central city roads and throughout Kilbirnie, Curtis Street in Northland, Karori, Hataitai and Miramar.

New World Metro on Willis Street experienced some flooding because of an overflowing drain just outside the shop.

Checkout manager Anita Kumar said there was not any damage.

There had been more than 14mm of rain in Kelburn between 7am and 8am and more than 10mm at the airport in the same time.

MetService spokesman Daniel Corbett said the weather was expected to clear up through the early afternoon and then a southerly change this evening could bring some more showers, Mr Corbett said.

Fine and dry weather should spread across the region for Tuesday and Wednesday.

Contact Shabnam Dastgheib
Breaking news reporter
Email: shabnam.dastgheib@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @shab_d

The Dominion Post