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The blustery winds made road travel hazardous in many areas of South Otago and Southland.
The New Zealand Transport Agency advised that State Highway 93 (Clinton to Mataura) was closed this afternoon due to a fallen tree taking out powerlines. Contractors and the power company were working to restore supply.
ODT reporter John Cosgrove battled the winds as he navigated his way around the Catlins and West Otago while on assignments today.
“Outside of Tapanui at the West Otago A&P annual show, several tents were hurriedly dismantled when the winds started picking up around 11.30am.
“Fire and Emergency NZ staff from Clinton were turning cars and trucks away near the start of the Clinton/Mataura Road due to fallen power lines further down past the Owaka Valley turn-off.
"On that road as I drove towards Owaka I watched several milk tankers, light trucks and horse floats being battered by heavy southerly winds, while many street and road signs were blown over in many parts."
Mr Cosgrove said on the Karoro Creek Rd towards Kaka Point he had to stop and move a large tree branch which had just fallen over the road blocking one side of it.
"Along the Kaka Point Rd towards Balclutha, severe southerly gusts rocked my car as they blew out from behind houses and shelter belts."
He said the RNZAF NH90 assigned to a combined NZ Police/ LandSAR training exercise in the Catlins was securely tied down at the Owaka Rugby club's field as rain and high winds howled through the township.
MetService warned west to southwest gusts could reach 120kmh at times for Dunedin and could get up to 130kmh in exposed parts of coastal Clutha in South Otago from 11am until 8pm.
The New Zealand Transport Agency advised road users travelling on State Highway 87 between Outram and Kyeburn to be extra vigilant on the road.
In Southland, a Fire and Emergency New Zealand spokesman said between 9am and 1pm, crews were called to 17 weather-related events, which had since died down.
Earlier, shift manager Johnathan Ditmer said these included trampolines being blown about and roofs lifting off houses, but nothing too serious.
Sstrong winds caused part of the spire at St Patrick's Catholic Church in Rimu St, Invercargill, to come loose and the area has been cordoned off to protect the public.
Mr Ditmer said fire crews could not yet assess and secure it, as winds this afternoon were making this too dangerous to attempt.
MetService said in Fiordland and Southland, including Stewart Island, winds may approach severe gale at times gusting 120kmh in exposed places.
However, there will be a change to severe gale southwesterlies gusting 130 kmh about midday, especially about coastal areas.
POWER OUTAGES IN SOUTHLAND, OTAGO
Power has been out for many in Southland since this morning and for parts of Otago from early afternoon.
A post to Aurora Energy's Facebook page this afternoon said it was aware of outages affecting parts of Green Island, Fairfield and Abbotsford in Dunedin, but did not say if this was weather related.
"Our crews are currently on their way to site to investigate and work as quickly and safely as possible to restore power."
It was unable to say when power would be restored, but reminded people to treat electrical equipment as live at all times.
In Southland, a Powernet alert advised that as of 12pm, there were outages in Dacre and Woodlands, caused by trees over lines as well as in Okapua Rd, Otama Valley Rd and Otamita Rd.
Power was also out in the areas of East Invercargill, Findlay Rd, Mill Rd North, Mill Rd South, Mross Bush East, Oteramika Rd, Avondale, Dunearn, Heenans Corner, Wakana and Kennington township.
Also affected are Edendale, Mimihau, Owari, Redan, Tuturau, Venlaw, Warikiki, Wyndham township, Papatowai, Puketiro, Tahakopa, Tautuku, Boundary Rd, Mokotua, Oteramika, Rimu, Tisbury, Waimatua, Branxholme, Makarewa, Otahuti, Spar Bush, Taramoa, Waianawa and Wrght's Bush.
Powernet also advised there were outages in Clinton, Kuriwao and the Otago areas of Kaiwera and Waipahi due to severe weather conditions.
The cause of many of the outages was being investigated and crews are working to restore power this afternoon.
STONG WIND WATCH FOR OTHER AREAS
A strong wind watch has been issued for Central Otago, Southern Lakes, North Otago and the Canterbury High Country.
MetService said west to northwest winds may approach severe gales in Central Otago and the Southern Lakes until 3pm today.
North Otago could experience west to southwest gales from 4pm today until 1am tomorrow.
In the Canterbury High Country, northwest winds could become severe gales at time until 5pm.
- By John Cosgrove, Emma Perry and ODT Online