Gales affect traffic and more expected

A police officer and a Delta contractor deal with a cable, believed to have been brought down by...
A police officer and a Delta contractor deal with a cable, believed to have been brought down by wind, in Kenmure Rd yesterday afternoon. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Severe gales reaching more than 100kmh across exposed parts of Otago and Southland caused disruptions — mainly to motorists — yesterday, and MetService has warned more are on the way.

A MetService spokesman said the highest wind gusts were recorded at Mid Dome, in Southland, which reached 148kmh, while Swampy Summit, near Dunedin, and the Clutha area reached more than 100kmh.

Police and Fire and Emergency New Zealand said residents appeared to be well prepared for the weather and it had been relatively quiet in terms of callouts to damage.

The most serious was a tree branch which fell across the north-bound lane of State Highway 1, at the top of the Kilmog about 2.30pm yesterday.

Strong winds also caused the cancellation of motor racing at Teretonga Park in Invercargill yesterday, and prompted NZ Transport Agency to put warnings out to drivers using State Highways 1 (Dunedin to Gore), 85 (Palmerston to Kyeburn), 87 (Kyeburn to Mosgiel), 8 (Clarksville to Raes Junction), and 90 (Raes Junction to McNab).

The MetService spokesman said gales were expected to continue over the southern region until Wednesday, and could become severe at times on the southern, Clutha and Dunedin coastlines.

A MetService spokesman said a strong, disturbed westerly flow would lie over the southern region for the start of this week. Later on Wednesday, a front was expected to move up the South Island, preceded by a moist northwest flow.

"On Monday, there is low confidence of severe westerly gales from southern Fiordland to Otago Peninsula, about and to the east of the Main Divide, and in Wairarapa.

"The low confidence continues over the far south through Tuesday, rising to moderate on Wednesday."

Rainfall is forecast to increase in Fiordland on Tuesday ahead of the next front, but there was low confidence that accumulations would meet warning criteria there, she said.

"On Thursday, a ridge of high pressure should move in from the Tasman Sea, bringing more settled weather to the country."

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