Wild weather whips up Southland chaos

16:00, Jan 02 2014
 Tom Wood, of Waimumu, takes his friends out on the lake while Georgina Turnbull follows on her jet ski.
WET AND WILD: It might have been cutting up rough on Lake Te Anau yesterday but that did not stop people enjoying their summer holiday. Tom Wood, of Waimumu, takes his friends out on the lake while Georgina Turnbull follows on her jet ski.

Wild weather whipped across the Southland region last night, causing fires, crashes and boats to run aground.

Southland braced for gusts of up to 120kmh yesterday as an active front moved across the region.

MetService media and communications meteorologist Daniel Corbett said the northwesterly brought gale-force winds and rain to the region.

A car was blown off the road between Luggate and Cromwell just after 6pm yesterday. Police said the occupants of the car were uninjured but it was a warning for people to drive to the conditions.

The NZ Transport Agency also closed the Milford road at 5pm yesterday, because of "a storm event" yesterday afternoon, after it rained all day in the area. It will remain closed until further notice.

In Invercargill, a boat ran aground near Bluff after strong winds caused it to break from its moorings.


Acting Senior Sergeant Ian Martin said the boat broke from its moorings about 7.30pm yesterday.

A police spokesman said the boat was seen drifting towards Island Harbour and the coastguard was called before it eventually ran aground.

Meanwhile, Kingswell firefighters attended a fire at a Murphy St property after the wind blew a cigarette butt on to woodchips in the garden.

Station officer Graeme Gilroy said the fire started about 6.45pm but the resident at the house had already used the garden hose to dampen it down and the fire crew just used a high-pressure hose to make sure it was out.

However, the situation was a reminder for people to be careful with their cigarette butts because it was the second call such call they had received from Invercargill residents in the past couple of days.

The weather warning issued by MetService advised people to be wary of winds bringing down trees and power lines, damage to structures and to be cautious in hazardous road conditions.

"People are [also] advised that heavy rain is likely to cause streams and rivers to rise rapidly, surface flooding and slips."

Severe weather meteorologist Chris Noble said the weather would ease off this morning, before the northerly changed to a westerly.

There were likely to be showers most of the day, he said.

The forecast looked to improve next week as the weather settled, Mr Noble said.

The Southland Times