'Wicked' winds cause chaos

JO MCKENZIE-MCLEAN
Last updated 20:30 23/06/2012
Reader Dale Small took this photo of his mother's house in Ward St, Runanga.
DALE SMALL

UNDER WATER: Reader Dale Small took this photo of his mother's house in Ward St, Runanga, saying: 'My raingauge goes up to 200mm and that was almost full just from that downpour alone.'

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Expected wild weather down south has started to bite with isolated incidents of wind damage.

Strong winds cut power and blew a roof off a North Canterbury house, while heavy rain flooded a town on the West Coast.

Meanwhile, the fire service was called out to secure roofs, signs and building materials as Wellington was blasted with strong northerlies.

 


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Winds reached up to 80 kilometres an hour in Canterbury while the small West Coast town of Runanga was hammered by an intense but isolated dumping of rain.

Oxford Fire Brigade's chief fire officer Trevor Ealam said winds had been "pretty wicked", and he was at home when he saw the roof from a fire-damaged neighbouring property blow away.

"It could have hit a car or anything when it flew on the road. It took out fence posts - there was a fair bit of force behind it."

The house was unoccupied after it had been damaged by fire some months back, he said.

MetService forecaster Philippa Murdoch said Canterbury's nor'west winds picked up about 11.30am and gale gusts of up to 80 kilometres an hour had been recorded.

An Orion spokeswoman said power was cut to 2000 rural customers west of Christchurch, including the Darfield, Hororata and Springfield areas, due to falling branches hitting power lines.

"The winds were extremely strong and the guys in the field said branches were blowing everywhere."

Meanwhile, on the West Coast, Runanga residents spent the afternoon sweeping stormwater overflow and sewage out of their properties.

Runanga's chief fire officer Gavin Gibbens said water and sewage flowed through their new fire station.
"It was pretty short-lived. It did the damage then buggered off. It was incredible how quickly it came up. It's a new station so it's the last thing you want but it wasn't anything we couldn't handle."

All three shops in the village were also flooded, shop assistant Debbie Fraser said.

Fraser, who works at The Top Shop, said the water came up extremely quickly. "About 3pm you could have sailed a canoe through the shop. It was over my ankle boots."

MetService forecaster Leigh Matheson said the heavy rainfall appeared to have been isolated to the small area north of Greymouth, which included Runanga.

"There was no observations of how much rain fell because the area was so isolated. Only eight millimetres fell in Greymouth and that's the most they had.''

However, other parts of the  Southland and Otago recorded heavier rain, with Milford Sound topping the day's (recorded) rainfall with 212 millimetres.

"There has been good spill over into the lakes which is probably good news for the power companies."

A gust of 133k was recorded at Mt Kaukau behind the Wellington suburb of Khandallah at 4pm and maximum gusts over 100k were recorded at Kelburn, Wellington Airport and on the waterfront, according to Metservice forecaster Melissa Roux.

The fire service reported a number of calls to buildings around the city. The yet-to-open Calender Girls strip club in Dixon St lost part of a large sign and firefighters scrambled to secure a loose tarpaulin at the Intercontinental Hotel.

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Roux said the wind was expected to turn southerly tomorrow and then revert to northerlies again later in the day.
he warm 19-degree high currently being enjoyed.

- Fairfax Media

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