South Island escapes the worst of the weather
FRANCESCA LEE, MATT STEWART, MICHELLE COOKE
Christchurch Earthquake 2011
As foul weather battered the country, the South Island avoided the worst, with the West Coast taking the brunt of the southern fronts.
Severe warnings were issued for the South Island, including thunder storms, heavy rains, and gales for the West Coast, the Southern Alps, Nelson, and northern Malborough, as a result of a northwestern front moving up north.
'It's raining cats and dogs,' said Greymouth mayor Tony Kokshoorn. 'We had a real heap of thunderstorms but there's no sign of any major flooding. I think we will be OK.
Telecommunications operator Chorus said lightning damaged a fibre optic cable in the Greymouth area, taking out phone lines and mobile phone coverage in Hokitika, Mt Hercules, Franz Josef Glacier, and Whataroa.
Residents were still able to make local calls. Hokitika New World store owner Gary Lee said customers were not able to purchase Lotto tickets until 2pm, when the phone lines were repaired.
It was the lower North Island which took the real punishment. Thousands of homes lost power, flights were cancelled, trees uprooted, windows blown in and roofing iron flew as spring gales gusting to 172kmh battered the Wellington region yesterday.
Several flights in and out of the capital were cancelled, diverted or delayed, forcing passengers to rebook. A Jetstar plane made two failed attempts before landing safely on the third, while another Jetstar flight was forced to return to Auckland, a Wellington Airport spokesman said.
Aucklander Mijnia Elliott described a white knuckle ride as her Jetstar flight twice failed to land before being diverted back to Auckland. "The plane was just swept up by the wind and people were screaming, babies were crying," she said. Another plane-load applauded on landing.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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