Gales portent of stormy week

Smoke rises from a bush and gorse fire in a gully near Dicksons Rd north of Kuri Bush yesterday ...
Smoke rises from a bush and gorse fire in a gully near Dicksons Rd north of Kuri Bush yesterday morning. Photo: Janice Lord
Wild winds which buffeted parts of Otago and Southland yesterday  were only the start of what meteorologists are expecting to be a week of wet, windy and snowy weather across the South Island.

A strong wind watch was in place for Otago and Southland  for most of yesterday  and gusts as high as 100kmh were recorded at  Dunedin Airport, disrupting flights in and out of the city.

MetService meteorologist Brian Mercer said the strongest recorded wind speed in Otago and Southland was a 120kmh gust at Mid Dome, between Lumsden and Athol.

A Delta linesman repairs a low voltage power line felled by high winds in Puketai St in the...
A Delta linesman repairs a low voltage power line felled by high winds in Puketai St in the Dunedin suburb of Andersons Bay yesterday afternoon. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
A 120kmh gust was also recorded at Ruapuke Island in  Foveaux Strait.

The strongest gust recorded at Taiaroa Head at the entrance to Otago Harbour was 102.6kmh about 7pm yesterday. Strong winds were also recorded in Dunedin, Gore and at Dunedin Airport, Mr Mercer said.

An  Air New Zealand return  flight from Christchurch yesterday afternoon was cancelled  Several other flights were delayed as high winds disrupted air travel across the  South Island.

There were fears the high winds would help spread a bush fire near Taieri Mouth yesterday morning. Two helicopters and eight fire crews were needed  to bring under control a blaze in a gully near Dicksons Rd. Fire and Emergency New Zealand communications shift manager Brent Dunn said other than the concerns about the Taieri Mouth fire spreading, the fire service did not attend any major wind-related incidents in either Otago or Southland.

The wind caused a minor issue with the electricity network after a low voltage power line came down in Puketai St.

The MetService is forecasting another wet, windy and snowy week for much of the South Island.

MetService meteorologist Angus Hines said there would be only a small respite from the weather today and more bad weather would arrive tomorrow. Between 8cm  and 2cm of snow was expected to fall around  Southland  and heavy rain and winds up to 120kmh around Canterbury, were also expected.

New road snow warnings were issued for Lewis Pass, Arthurs Pass, Lindis Pass,  Crown Range Rd and the Milford road,  and more were possible in the coming week.

Fiordland, Westland south of Otira and the headwaters of Canterbury and Otago lakes and rivers are expected to experience the heaviest rain.

tim.miller@odt.co.nz

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