Balmy weather to come to snowy end

MYLES HUME
Last updated 07:38 01/08/2014

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Weather: Clear skies expected Cows on motorway slow traffic Weather: Showers expected later today Christchurch to escape heavy rain and gales Christchurch set to avoid regional downpour Fine skies ahead of drizzle Weekend highs of 20C ahead Strong winds ease off for fine day 150kmh gusts on the way for Canterbury Gales and rain make miserable start to the week

Canterbury's balmy streak is set to continue, but do not put the rain jacket away just yet.

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.

MetService has forecast the northwesterly flow will again have inland areas of Canterbury on high alert as winds look 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. Many are currently closed including Mt Hutt, Porters, Mt Cheeseman, Broken River, Craigieburn and Temple Basin.

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 130 kmh 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.

WINDS CONTINUE TO WHIP UP FIRES

Warm and wild winds continued to spark fires in rural Canterbury yesterday.

As strong winds exceeding 100kmh whipped up the inlands this week, firefighters from North Canterbury through to South Canterbury have been called to a string of fires on rural properties.

Mid-Canterbury firefighters dealt with two blazes caused by arching powerlines blowing in the wind yesterday.

A Fire Service spokesman said the first came about 3.30am on Two Chain Rd in Bankside, Selwyn, where firefighters from Rakaia, Burnham and Dunsandel worked to extinguish 30 large hay bales.

That was followed by a similar blaze on Arundel Rakaia Gorge Rd in Mayfield about 9am, where powerlines set several trees alight, he said.

Farmers have been warned to take extreme care as gale force winds sweep the region, after two controlled burn-offs went awry.

Firefighters fought a major scrub fire at a private rural property on Monavale Rd on Wednesday, between Cave and Albury, in the Mackenzie District as a strong northwesterly winds picked up embers from a controlled burn-off, deputy principal rural fire officer Trevor Sim said

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A Fire Service spokesman said that was followed by a similar fire on Moorehouse Rd in Mayfield about midday yesterday.

During the past two days, a large hay shed was destroyed by fire in Hurunui and firefighters battled a large hedge fire in Waimate.

- The Press

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