Hail, gales picked for weekend start

Last updated 15:27 28/02/2014

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Wellington is experiencing gusts of wind up to 110kmh from the northwest ahead of a southerly change expected this evening, Metservice says.  

Windy weather from both directions was expected, and a southerly change would bring showers from about 6pm, MetService communications meteorologist John Law said.

"It isn't going to be a very pleasant night, but the showers will clear away from Wellington as we head into the morning tomorrow.

"So the last showers are clearing before dawn, and we've got a dry Saturday ahead of us.

"It's not feeling as great as it could, temperatures tomorrow could be a little bit of a struggle, and it's going to feel pretty cool."

Canterbury is also at risk of being battered by strong winds and large hail for the second time in less than a week.

MetService is also warning of a lower risk of thunderstorms and hail in some other parts of the South Island, and of strong winds and hail in the bottom southeast of the North Island.

It showed a high risk this afternoon in much of Canterbury of thunderstorms with localised heavy rain, strong winds gusting to 90kmh, and hail up to 20mm in diameter.

"In addition there is a low risk of these storms becoming severe about the foothills with damaging large hail in excess of 20mm," MetService said.

"Canterbury looks like the area where we're most likely to see them (thunderstorms), but that's not saying we won't see some down to the south as well," Law said.

The bottom and southwest of the South Island is shown having a moderate risk of thunderstorms through the day, with heavy rain and hail up to 15mm in diameter.

Some other parts of the South Island had a low risk of thunderstorms, while the southeast corner of the North Island has a low risk of strong winds and hail this evening.

Showers and hail were being brought to much of southern New Zealand by a cold trough in the upper atmosphere moving across the South Island, MetService said.

Unsettled weather today and yesterday has brought the rain, or the promise of rain, for dry areas of central Otago and parts of Canterbury, but little chance of imminent rain is offered for large areas of the North Island which are becoming increasingly dry.

Until it received more than 4mm of rain yesterday, Queenstown had received only 7mm of rain in February, with Wanaka getting only 4mm before yesterday's 1.6mm.

In contrast, MetService records no rain in Hamilton since mid-February, and only around 12mm in the two weeks before that, with only a slight chance of a shower today.

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Similarly New Plymouth has received only 20mm of rain so far this month, with none since mid-February, although it could get some brief rain later today.

Other particularly dry areas include Dargaville, Ohakune, Auckland, Rotorua and Taupo.

The lengthy spell of dry weather this summer comes after the country experienced its worst drought in nearly 70 years last summer.

Scientists have predicted that climate change is most likely to mean most North Islands regions will have more time in drought in the future. However, Niwa principal climate scientist Brett Mullan  said not too much should be taken from having two consecutive dry summers.

- Stuff

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