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Fire and Emergency New Zealand is urging Otago and Southland residents to make sure rubbish fires are fully extinguished this morning as hot, strong winds blast across the southern region.
MetService has issued a severe weather warning for gale-force winds, gusting to 120kmh in exposed areas.
An active front, preceded by strong northwesterlies, approached the south of the South Island from the Tasman Sea last night, and is now moving northeast over the South Island.
A MetService spokesman said the front was forecast to bring heavy rain to the West Coast of the South Island, where up to 100mm might accumulate between 6am and 7pm, and peak rates of up to 25mm per hour were expected during that period.
"In addition, a strong wind warning and watches are in force for southern and eastern parts of the South Island."
An orange warning had been issued for Fiordland between 2am and 4pm; and for Southland, Stewart Island and the Clutha area between 5am and 10pm, he said.
"Northwest gales are forecast to be severe at times with gusts reaching 120kmh in exposed places.
"Strong wind gusts could damage trees, power lines and unsecured structures.
"Driving may be hazardous, especially for high-sided vehicles and motorcycles."
The foehn wind effect was also expected to drive temperatures up to 25degC in Otago, and the low 20s elsewhere.
Fenz Otago principal rural fire officer Graeme Still said the strong winds and high temperatures might exacerbate the fire risk across the region.
"We recommend people check any fires that they have lit recently, to make sure they are completely out, and certainly don’t light any new fires.
"Take care and be sensible."
He urged residents to keep up-to-date with the latest forecasts.