Heavy rain to hit West Coast

02:26, Apr 03 2013

MetService has issued a severe weather warning for the West Coast ranges, as a front brings much-needed rain to northerly parts of the region.

"Those areas that were badly affected [by drought], it looks like today will be their first good dose of rain," Federated Farmers West Coast provincial president Katie Milne said today.

"Previously they had been getting a little bit, but certainly hadn't been getting what the forecast had been predicting."

Drought was officially declared in the Buller and Grey districts almost a fortnight ago.

Westport, the main town in Buller, received only 32 millimetres of rain in March, just a quarter of average.

MetService figures show the town was dry for a fortnight until yesterday when it received 3.8mm, and early today it picked up about another 15mm.

In contrast, Hokitika at the top of Westland, further south, picked up 60mm in the past three days, although it was dry for much of March and received less than a fifth of its usual February rainfall.

Milne said that at her place, inland near Lake Brunner, a reasonably steady, gentle rain was falling this morning.

"Today we have the minister (for primary industries Nathan Guy) here to look at our situation," she said.

"That always seems to make it rain."

MetService said a front, preceded by moist northwesterlies and active showers, was expected to move northeast over the West Coast today, clearing the region during the afternoon.

While rainfall amounts were not expected to be unusual for the area, isolated heavy falls might be intense at times and produce localised surface flooding.

Southland also received some rain early today, and MetService was predicting rain or showers for much of the country today or tomorrow, although only small amounts were expected in some areas hard hit by drought such as Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Hawke's Bay and Canterbury.