South battered by winds; more in store

Strong winds have made their impact felt across the South, cutting power, downing lines and prompting skifield closures.

PowerNet general manager operations Gary Pritchard said the winds had caused power interruptions for 1400 customers across Southland and Otago.

The worst-affected areas in Otago were Stirling and Warepa, and Charlton, Mandeville, Otamita and Ardlussa in Southland.

He said power was restored to all customers by noon today.

However, Mr Pritchard said it was likely the adverse conditions would continue to affect customers, and anyone experiencing problems with their electricity supply should contact PowerNet immediately. 

Power lines were brought down on the Balclutha bridge this morning. Traffic delays lasted about 30 minutes as fire service and linesmen worked to fix the lines.

The winds have also led to the closure of skifields Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Treble Cone.

Coronet ski area manager Hamish McCrostie said the winds made it impossible to operate the chairlifts and so a decision was made at 7.30am this morning to close. The skifields would announce closures on a day-to-day basis.

Cardrona's website lists the mountain as open today.

The winds were expected to die down later this afternoon; however, they would return tomorrow, local weather forecaster David Crow said.

Wanaka this morning received gusts up to 58kmh with winds averaging 38kmh.

Both Queenstown and Arrowtown were unaffected by the gusts, the Queenstown Lakes District Council reporting no major wind damage in the area.

Mr Crow said the wind is expected to stick around for another week "on and off".

MetService warned that gales could reach 120kmh and make driving hazardous in Southland and Otago, while strong northwesterly winds were expected in much of the country, especially in eastern areas south of Wairarapa.

Heavy rain is also expected on the West Coast over the coming days. About 150mm to 200mm was likely to accumulate in the Westland and Fiordland areas from today until tomorrow.

MetService also warned that Otago and Canterbury lakes and rivers may rise and for people in these areas to be cautious.



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