More wild weather on the way

01:58, Nov 22 2011

Today's fine weather looks like being a brief calm between storms for large parts of the country, with more soaking rain and blasting winds expected tomorrow, following yesterday's torrid conditions.

MetService has issued severe weather warnings and watches predicting heavy rain for the South Island West Coast and severe gales from south of Napier to Wellington.

MetService spokesman Bob McDavitt said rain was expected to fall on regions that were already saturated and soggy.

"People in Southland, Westland, and Buller are advised to be ready for rapidly rising rivers and streams. Surface flooding and slips are especially likely in Buller and north Westland," McDavitt said today.

Northwest winds were likely to reach severe gale force during Wednesday afternoon around exposed parts of Wairarapa, and possibly Wellington and Hawke's Bay south of Napier. Those winds may be strong enough to damage trees and powerlines, and to make driving difficult.

The wind in Wellington would probably not be as strong as yesterday when it hit 120kmh to 146kmh between 8am and 10am, McDavitt said.

Tomorrow's strongest winds could be up to 120kmh during the afternoon in exposed parts of Wairarapa, after gusts yesterday reached 137kmh from the Rimutaka summit through to Castlepoint.

Metservice said winds should ease overnight tomorrow.

In the 18 hours from 6am tomorrow a burst of heavy rain was expected in Buller and Westland from about Greymouth north, bringing 80mm to 120mm, with rainfall rates possibly reaching 20mm to 30mm per hour.

On Thursday and Friday, a strong and cooler southwest wind flow is expected to spread over the country, possibly bringing gales to the region between Invercargill and Dunedin.

Torrential rain yesterday pushed West Coast rivers to record high levels as flooding stranded residents, closed roads and brought down powerlines.

The Grey River rose to 6.8 metres last night - its highest since 1997 - with Civil Defence staff erecting extra barriers to prevent the torrent flooding through Greymouth.

As wild weather lashed the country, a woman and her baby were rescued from a stranded car at Totara Flat and a 70-year-old farmer was pulled from the water at Coal Creek.

Helicopters were called in to rescue hundreds of cattle on West Coast properties, with some reportedly electrocuted after floodwaters brought down power lines.