Deluge floods campers

CHRIS HYDE
Last updated 11:25 04/01/2014
Noni Whitson
BAG LADY: Noni Whitson gets caught out in the rain on her walk home in Palmerston North yesterday.

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An "intense" period of rain in Horowhenua caused surface flooding in Levin and sent campers running for a different form of shelter.

The front that swept up the lower North Island yesterday afternoon, downed trees on the Kapiti Coast and north of Feilding, but Palmerston North and Manawatu avoided the worst of the onslaught.

MetService forecaster Leigh Matheson said 70 to 80mm of rain had fallen on the Tararua Range yesterday and winds had reached gale force through Dannevirke and Pahiatua.

Ironically, Palmerston North was the place to be in the lower North Island with just 1mm of rain from a brief shower about 5pm and the forecasted strong to severe winds never getting above 30kmh.

In contrast, a 10mm burst of rain between 3pm and 4pm in Levin caused flooding on roads in the town. At Levin Holiday Park the two remaining families camping there ditched the tents and chose to book into cabins for the night, co-owner Debbie Wright said.

The aptly named Noah's Park inside the campground had become water-logged by 4pm.

"We normally have the campers all on the lawn at this time of the year but it's deserted now," Mrs Wright said. "I can't imagine we'd have anyone else wanting to pitch a tent for a little bit at least."

Mrs Wright said the season had been stop-start so far but there was still a long way to go, with the real busy time for the park usually coming in mid to late-January.

"As long as it's just a day or two of rain and not consistent through January we'll be fine," she said.

Staunch campers Candace Parrant, her fiance Dwayne Housiaux and their 3-year-old daughter Riley had tried to wait out the rain in Levin but eventually gave in to the comforts of a cabin.

"We were going to risk it and stay in the tent but then it just started bucketing down," Ms Parrant said.

Sentiments of summer woe were echoed across most of New Zealand.

"Unreal" winds 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".

Wind gusts of 140kmh were recorded on Mt Kaukau above Wellington yesterday morning and 133kmh on the top of the Rimutaka Hill.

MetService said the conditions would ease across the country, but Ms Matheson warned that Manawatu and Horowhenua were not out of the woods yet.

Late today and early tomorrow another front, "probably slightly less extreme" is expected to hit the western North Island bringing rain.

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The MetService was likely to issue warnings for the front tomorrow, Ms Matheson said.

The weather would clear into Monday but another front would come through later on Tuesday, she said.

"It's just one of those periods where everything is awfully unsettled."

- Manawatu Standard

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