Heavy rain, gales picked for weekend

23:35, Jul 11 2012

Winter is set to show its wild side again this weekend, with heavy rain and strong gales expected in parts of the country.

MetService has issued a severe weather watch, saying a new front would cross over the lower South Island tomorrow before heading northwards during the weekend.

It was predicting strong northerly gales and heavy rain for Fiordland and Westland beginning tomorrow.

"There is high confidence of rainfall totals meeting warning criteria for Fiordland and Westland during this time, and for the Otago and Canterbury headwaters, and a severe weather watch has already been issued for rain starting later on Thursday.

"As the front reaches the upper South Island on Sunday, there is moderate confidence of rainfall reaching warnable accumulations over the ranges of Buller and western Nelson, also the Richmond Range and Marlborough Sounds. The risk is seen as low for Taranaki on Monday."

MetService said there was "moderate confidence" of severe northwest gales for exposed inland areas of the South Island and the Marlborough Sounds, and for Wellington and Wairarapa on Sunday and Monday.

"Note, this is likely to be a significant weather event for the South Island's West Coast and near the Alps. People planning outdoor activities during this time are advised that the combination of strong wind and heavy rain are likely to make conditions hazardous.

"In addition spillover rain may cause rivers and streams originating from the Southern Alps to rise rapidly."