High winds forecast for weekend

MATT STEWART
Last updated 10:39 30/11/2012

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Gale-force winds are forecast for the region over the weekend, as the lower North Island endures a cold snap on the eve of summer.

A severe weather warning would be issued for Wairarapa and Hawke's Bay, while a severe weather watch would be issued for Wellington.

MetService forecaster Dan Corbett said northwesterly winds could gust up to 120kmh on the Rimutaka ranges and throughout the Wairarapa from late Saturday afternoon.

Winds of this strength had the potential to damage trees, powerlines and unsecure structures and could make driving hazardous.

''They're going to get pretty fierce on Sunday morning,'' Mr Corbett said.

The worst winds would buffet areas east of the Rimutaka ranges.

Mr Corbett said the stormy sting in the tail of spring was ''like the fat lady hasn't left the building and is giving it one last kick.''

The capital was in for a cold day today and a snow warning was in place for the Desert Road.

Summer may be beckoning but a disturbed southwesterly airflow has interrupted the move to warmer weather.

In Wellington the temperature was not expected to exceed 13 degrees Celsius today, after managing to get above 20C on the five previous days.

Showers on the Desert Rd over the central North Island's central plateau could turn to sleet or snow near the summit, MetService said, but snow was nto expected to accumulate on the highway.

MetService also warned of a low risk of thunderstorms about the North Island east coast from Tolaga Bay to southern Wairarapa, and for Hawke's Bay, Gisborne and possibly eastern Bay of Plenty.

Along with showers, Hawke's Bay was also in for a drop in temperatures, compared to the highs in the mid-20s the region had previously this week. Today Napier was not expected to get above 17C, with Hastings to get no higher than 15C.

MetService duty forecaster Peter Knudsen said the lower temperatures were due to an outbreak of cooler air coming in from the south of the country.

Such events were not unusual at this time of year, and the cooler air was expected to be gone overnight.

Fierce gales are expected to batter Wairarapa and Hawke's Bay overnight Saturday with strong winds also forecast for Wellington.

MetService forecaster Dan Corbett said northwesterly winds could gust up to 120kmh on the Rimutaka ranges and throughout the Wairarapa from late Saturday afternoon.

''They're going to get pretty fierce on Sunday morning,'' Mr Corbett said.

A severe weather warning would be issued for Wairarapa and Hawke's Bay, while a severe weather watch would be issued for Wellington.

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The worst winds would buffet areas east of the Rimutaka ranges.

Mr Corbett said the stormy sting in the tail of spring was ''like the fat lady hasn't left the building and is giving it one last kick.''

- The Dominion Post

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