Wild, windy weekend ahead

DEIDRE MUSSEN
Last updated 09:03 01/08/2014
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ANDY JACKSON/FAIRFAX NZ

Springing ahead: Taranaki's Hudson Simons, 22 months, checks out the daffodils already growing at the bottom of Marsland Hill in New Plymouth.

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Despite a warmer week, a grim forecast of gales and heavy rain for the next few days is set to blight weekend plans for people around the country.

Wellington is in for a wild weekend, with gale-force northerlies bringing spells of rain, heavy for a time on Sunday, before easing to showers as the wind turns a cooler southerly.

Gale-force northerlies are predicted to gust to 100kmh in the capital today and up to 120kmh tomorrow.

"Saturday looks like the worst," Little said. "At this stage, it's looking pretty ugly . . . It's one of those days you leave your umbrella at home, as it will end up in the rubbish otherwise."

Heavy rain was likely about Mt Taranaki, the headwaters of the Whanganui, the Tararua Range and eastern Bay of Plenty tomorrow and Sunday.

After temperatures in Christchurch yesterday nudged the city's July 2012 record of 22.4 degrees Celsius, the region is set for another fine, but blustery, day with a high of 19C today and tomorrow.

Timaru, which reached 21.4C yesterday, was set for another warm day with 21C forecast.

MetService has forecast the northwesterly flow will again have inland areas of Canterbury on high alert with winds picked to reach 150kmh, potentially downing power lines and igniting further fires on rural properties.

But the mercury is set to drop on Sunday when cold southerlies bring occasional showers and temperatures will fall to around 11C.

The southerly change may bring a much-needed dumping of snow to South Island ski fields.

Meanwhile, heavy rain is expected about the Southern Alps and west of the South Island until tomorrow.

The heaviest rain is likely to hit Fiordland and Westland, with significant spillover into the Otago and Canterbury headwaters.

From this evening through to tomorrow night, up to 250 millimetres of rain could fall near the main divide.

Wind gusts in exposed areas of Canterbury, Otago and Southland may reach 130kmh at times.

"In the areas affected by the heavy rain, rivers could rise rapidly and there is the possibility of slips and surface flooding. Wind gusts of 130kmh or stronger have the potential to damage trees and powerlines and create difficult driving conditions," MetService said.  

SNAPSHOT AT 9AM

Dunedin has the highest temperature at 18.3 degrees, while Nelson, at 7.7 degrees, is the coldest, MetService reports. Wanaka is the windiest with 50kmh gusts.

Auckland woke to thick fog in many areas, affecting flights and making driving difficult. The fog is expected to disperse when winds pick up as the day progresses.

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