Meteorologist warns of severe gales, rain

Trees, powerlines and motorists could bear the brunt of gale force winds bearing down on the south.

A clear frosty day enjoyed in Southland, Otago and Queenstown Lakes yesterday will give way to strong winds and heavy rain today with the approach of a series of fronts.

Meteorologist John Law said strong northwesterlies would precede the initial front, rising to severe gales gusting up to 120kmh in eastern parts of Fiordland, Southland and Otago this afternoon.

Winds of this strength were likely to bring down trees, powerlines and make driving hazardous for motorcycles and high-sided vehicles, he said.

"Anyone on the roads should take care and be mindful of the conditions."

Emergency Management Southland manager Neil Cruickshank said road users, particularly in northern Southland, needed to take care when travelling today.

Areas such as Mossburn, north of Lumsden and the Te Anau basin will probably feel the effects of the wind the most.

Drivers of trucks, buses and campervans could all have difficulty driving safely in wind gusts between 120kmh and 140kmh, he said.

"We are aware there may be extra traffic on the rural roads with Gypsy Day not far away, so it may be an idea not to be doing any moving this afternoon," Cruickshank said.

Trees may also be blown over in the wind especially where there has been a lot of rain lately.

Heavy rain is also expected in Fiordland where 100 to 150mm is expected over a 12-hour period from 3pm.

There is a gale force warning from Foveaux Strait to Milford Sound with northwest winds between 25 knots and 35 knots. Seas would be very rough and visibility poor because of developing rain.

Law said there was some good news following the front with slightly higher temperatures and the rain should begin to clear by Friday in Central Otago but temperatures would also dip.

The Southland Times