Year's start mostly dry, cooler

Despite earlier predictions of a wet new year, Otago is now expected to have a mostly dry but possibly cooler start to 2013.

A westerly weather pattern was establishing over the Tasman Sea and New Zealand, the wet conditions arriving earlier than expected and clearing by New Year's Eve, the MetService says.

In Central Otago and the Queenstown Lakes district, rain was expected to clear in the morning then become fine with northwesterlies and highs of about 17degC-19degC.

On New Year's Day similar temperatures and northwesterlies were predicted with high cloud and a few spots of rain.

In Dunedin, New Year's Eve was expected to be mostly fine with a few showers possible later in the evening and a high of 21degC.

On the day itself, the city was expected to be mostly fine with westerlies and a temperature of about 22degC.

In the Waitaki Valley the winds were predicted to become gusty and possibly gale force in exposed areas with temperatures in the twenties.

On New Year's Day, conditions would be fine and windy.

With three more days until New Year's Eve it was possible those conditions could change, forecaster John Law said.

Large swathes of the North Island were hit by a thunderstorm with warnings of heavy rain, slips and flash flooding.

MetService forecasters have issued a severe thunderstorm watch for Waikato, Waitomo, Taumarunui, Taupo, Hawkes Bay, Taranaki, Taihape, Wanganui, Manawatu and Tararua.

- rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz

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