Weather bomb fails to go off

KATIE KENNY
Last updated 09:41 17/03/2014
Abbey Hillard
TROPICAL: Abbey Hillard, 9, cools off at Petone’s McKenzie Baths on a sweltering, tropical day caused by Cyclone Lusi.

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While there is relief around the country that tropical storm Lusi did little damage this weekend, MetService said it did pack several punches.

Meteorologist Liz Walsh said it was inaccurate to say Lusi was lighter than forecast, with some exposed, mountainous areas being hard hit.

"I understand that Auckland didn't get quite as much as originally expected, and that Wellington was quite benign until last night - until the actual ex-cyclone travelled through central New Zealand," she said.

"But I think it's inaccurate to say it was lighter than forecast for some areas. We did have very high gusts in other areas that were not heavily populated."

Gusts in excess of 200kmh were recorded in some mountainous regions near Taihape, while last night and this morning the Rimutaka Hill Road between Wellington and the Wairarapa had wind gusts of 120kmh.

More than 200 millimetres of rain fell in about 18 hours in the Tararua Ranges in the lower North Island, and Nelson received 273mm of rain in 24 hours at one station in the Golden Bay ranges.

"It's great that [the storm] did not hit places that are populated with a lot of people," Walsh said.

"But it's inaccurate to say Lusi was less than expected. Maybe in some areas, but in others we had some very high gusts.

"The warnings were verified."

Torrential rain affected Nelson, Marlborough and parts of Wellington as the storm crossed last night, while in contrast Westland remained sunny and calm.

A couple of trees had been blown down on Paekakariki Hill Rd, between Kapiti and Pauatahanui.

Both lanes were blocked and the road was closed. It reopened shortly before 9am, police said.

The sky in Wellington was expected to clear today but a front was moving up the South Island and should make for a "normal Wellington windy day" today, Walsh said.

Water-logged Christchurch residents had prepared for flooding with sandbags, but emergency services said there were no major issues as a result of yesterday's 30mm rainfall.

Just over the hill, Banks Peninsula suffered power cuts from 6.30am.

Owing to the storm's tropical air, weekend temperatures were unusually high at the weekend. Paraparaumu, north of Wellington, reached 30 degrees Celsius.

"It really did feel like Fiji," Walsh said.

Most of the country could expect warm temperatures to continue today as conditions eased.

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- The Dominion Post

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