Strong winds rip through Wellington

Last updated 15:27 03/01/2014

On Friday, the storm cut power to hundreds of homes, toppled a powerpole and almost destroyed a balcony in Wellington.

Wellington weather january 3
Fallen debris from trees, delaying traffic near Otaki.

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Stormy weather in Wellington today closed roads, delayed flights and knocked out power to hundreds of homes.

The peak of the storm blew through Wellington at 12.30pm today, MetService meteorologist Dan Corbett said.

Gusts had been recorded at 140kmh at Mt Kaukau above Wellington this morning and 133kmh on the top of the Rimutaka Hill.

Wellington Electricity spokesman Drew Douglas said 444 homes and businesses in Pukerua Bay lost power at about 1.45pm. He said although the precise cause was not yet known, the outage was weather-related and the company would try and restore power later this afternoon.

A Wellington Electricity spokesman said 144 houses in the Hutt Valley hills around Kelson had lost power at 9.15am. All but 14 were back on by noon. They were expected to be reconnected early this afternoon.

Wellington Airport had reached gusts of 100kmh but these had dropped down to about 95kmh.

There were delays, cancellations and diversions to flights in and out of Wellington Airport earlier today due to the high winds. Airport spokeswoman Briarley Kirk said although some small delays were still expected, winds were easing and most flights were now operating on time. International arrivals were scheduled to arrive on time this afternoon. 

Senior Sergeant Marc Clausen said flooding due to heavy wind and rain had closed State Highway 58 between Joseph Banks Dr and Postgate Dr at Whitby and across the inlet at Gray's Rd Pauatahanui.

There had been only minor traffic delays and it was anticipated both roads would be open within an hour as the tide went out.

Mr Clausen said the rain and wind had not contributed to any incidents or accidents around the region yet but he urged motorists to exercise caution, especially near State Highway 2 near Melling where surface flooding had created a hazard.

Meanwhile motorists are experiencing long delays on State Highway 1 north of Otaki, due to debris from trees blown on to the road between Otaki and Levin.  

''Contractors are on scene clearing this away but this may take some time,'' Mr Clausen said.

In the Hutt Valley, a conservatory was destroyed with a "massive explosion" when a lamp-post was blown into a house in the suburb of Avalon.

Frank Oliver said his family was sitting in the lounge of his house when the pole snapped off its base outside and crashed through the conservatory.

"The whole top of the pole is sitting right in the house," he said.

Their elderly mother had just gone into a rest home but if she had been home there was a good chance she would have been in the conservatory, he said.

"We were in the lounge and heard this almighty crash," his brother Brent Oliver said.

In Wellington city, a 20-metre stretch of glazing plus part of a balcony were almost blown off a home in Roseneath, Fire Service senior station officer John Mansford, said.

But the call at 9am was the first call his crew has has today.

"Generally speaking, what is left to blow down in Wellington has already blown down in the past several months," Mansford said.

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Things should begin to ease back later today going into tomorrow, with a "breezy" northwest wind and some rain in the afternoon, Corbett said.

NZTA was urging motorists to take care driving over the Rimutaka Hill road today.


- The Dominion Post


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