Extreme weather sweeps globe
It’s been a day of crazy weather - all over the globe.
Close to home, ‘‘unreal’’ winds have tipped over a caravan near Kaikoura, cut power to hundreds of homes in Pukerua Bay and smashed a light-pole into a conservatory in a Hutt Valley home, causing a ‘‘massive explosion.’’
Meanwhile in Australia, searing temperatures were setting new heat records in Queensland. Four weather stations recorded their highest ever January temperatures on Thursday, with Birdsville residents enduring a scorching 48.1C.
It was expected to be 37 degrees in Brisbane on Friday and 41 on Saturday.
Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Kevin Hutchins said a slow, high-moving pressure system was pushing up temperatures. "It's because it's so static and it's just sitting there ... and it's getting hotter," he said.
On the other side of the planet, the governors of New York and New Jersey had declared a state of emergency and officials were pleading with residents to stay indoors as a major snowstorm bore down on the northeastern United States.
‘‘This is the first of many times I will say please stay indoors. Stay out of your cars. If you don't need to go out, please don't go out," said Bill de Blasio, the new mayor of New York.
Parts of New England were expecting up to 35cm of snow, New York City was expecting 7 to 17cm, and in Massachusetts temperatures with wind chills were expected to reach -32C.
Schools and state offices were ordered closed and New York’s three area airports were preparing to accommodate stranded travellers whose flights were cancelled.
HIGH WINDS AT MT KAUKAU
Back in New Zealand, wind gusts had been recorded at 140kmh at Mt Kaukau above Wellington this morning and 133kmh on the top of the Rimutaka Hill.
Stuff reader Anton Jones said a tree fell down "right in front of our car" just north of Otaki.
Power was cut to hundreds of homes in Pukerua Bay.
Wellington airport spokeswoman Briarley Kirk said around mid-afternoon that while some small delays were expected, winds were easing and most flights were now operating on time
Frank Oliver said his family was sitting in the lounge of his house in the Hutt Valley when the lamp post snapped off its base outside and crashed through the conservatory.
"We were in the lounge and heard this almighty crash," his brother Brent Oliver said.
Motorists were urged to exercise caution, especially on State Highway 2 near Melling where flooding had created a hazard.
Traffic on State Highway 1 outside Jennings Farm and the Quarter Acre Cafe in Manakua had slowed to a crawl, reported Sam Jennings, with motorists taking as long as one hour and 40 minutes to travel the 5km from Manakua to Otaki.
On the South Island, a caravan crash was reported near Hapuku, about 14km north of Kaikoura, on State Highway 1 at 1.16pm today.
Fire Service spokesman Riwai Grace said the caravan suffered "major injuries and will probably never be used again" but the people inside were fortunately as "good as gold".
Kula Dimmock of Christchurch thought the winds were dropping and it was safe to set up a tent in Hamner. "Three hours later we are packed up and driving home leaving our poor shredded tent in a rubbish bag," she wrote in an email.
In Marlborough, wild winds forced up to 40 families out from the community-run Havelock Motor Camp early this morning.
Manager Neville Pickering said "unbelievable" gusts hit the small Marlborough town about 4am, causing havoc for campers.
Fallen trees and branches had cut power to about 600 homes in Canterbury’s Selwyn district, although most was being restored this afternoon.
But the blustery conditions were expected to ease by the weekend, with MetService weather forecaster Dan Corbett suggested this weekend and next Monday would be ideal picnic or beach days in Canterbury.