Strong winds damage skifield


Strong winds damaged lifts and blew the roof off a building at Mt Hutt as the ski area shut for three days.

The skifield was closed due to the strong winds last Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Ski area manager James McKenzie said record gust wind speeds were recorded at the top of the Nor’west Express chairlift, of 183km/h.

The wind speed recorded at the summit was 234km/h, less than the record highest speed ever recorded there of 254km/h.

The triple chair top hut’s iron roof was blown off, while a perspex panel of roofing from the Nor’west Express chairlift top hut was also blown off and landed about 600m away.

Some chairlift seats lost their safety bars as the wind blew them up so high they crashed with the chairlift’s cable.

‘‘We are finding a few bits and pieces around the skifield,’’ McKenzie said on Tuesday, as light winds prevailed on the mountain.

Before the wind got too strong, Peak to Pub organisers got their annual event underway on Saturday morning.

The ski area opened briefly for competitors, to enable the race, from Mt Hutt to the Blue Pub, to go ahead.

The ski area still has a good base of 1.5m, despite the wind causing it to shrink by about 10cm.

McKenzie said the skifield planned to close at its normal time of mid-October.

The closing date would be October 15.

‘‘It’s been turbulent,’’ McKenzie said of the weather on the skifield so far this season.

The weekend’s strong winds followed the ski area closing for two weeks in June after rain washed away the snow base.