24 Jan 2017

Sunnier skies after latest summer storm passes

12:52 pm on 24 January 2017

The damp and windy New Zealand summer is set to continue today for much of the country, but calm, blue skies are expected to return later this week.

Blue skies and strong winds at Mt Robert above Lake Rotoiti today.

Blue skies and strong winds at Mt Robert above Lake Rotoiti today. Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

Wild weather in the past week has seen roads closed in Southland, a heavy dump of snow at Cardrona and powerlines brought down by strong winds in Auckland.

Heavy rain and severe gales are expected to lash large parts of the South Island from this afternoon.

But more traditional summer weather is expected to return for many - but not all - parts of New Zealand later in the week, Weatherwatch said.

Head weather forecaster Philip Duncan said high pressure was returning, with lighter winds, sunnier skies and hotter afternoons.

Rain in Dunedin as severe weather starts to hit Otago.

Heavy rain is expected to hit the South Island again today. Photo: RNZ / Lydia Anderson

"Eastern and northern parts of both islands will be most exposed to the more summer-like weather with plenty of dry days ahead and highs climbing into the mid to late 20s even low to mid 30s for some in the east".

But he warned that there would still be some strong winds in Wellington.

"Windier days will still be in the mix and further south the West Coast will still be seeing more showers and cooler winds from time to time. This will also brush past Southland and coastal Otago with changeable weather".

After some initial clear skies, another active front was expected to make an impact today, with MetService issuing a severe weather warning of heavy rain in the west of the South Island and gales in much of southern and central New Zealand.

It said the heaviest rain was likely to hit Fiordland and the Westland ranges south of Otira from tonight to tomorrow morning.

North-west gales are predicted for parts of Fiordland, Southland, Otago and inland Canterbury, with gusts of 130 km/h in exposed areas. Gusts could be even stronger, possibly more than 140 km/h, in the Canterbury high country.

MetService said such strong winds could topple trees and power lines, and prove hazardous for motorists.

Slip cleared, power back on

State Highway 73 near Arthur's Pass has re-opened to one lane this morning, after a large slip brought on by last week's weather bomb closed the road.

Last Wednesday contractors began clearing the slip on the Lower Otira Gorge, which is estimated to have brought as much as 50,000 cubic metres of debris onto the road.

The Transport Agency said from today the highway would re-open to one lane with 10 minute openings on the hour between 8am and 7pm.

It said people needed to factor in extra time for the journey, until both lanes were reopened.

Dozens of rural roads in Southland are also being reopened after being closed yesterday by floodwaters from heavy rain.

All roads in northern Southland have been cleared, though drivers are being warned to watch out for surface flooding or road damage. The town of Wakaia is no longer cut off.

At least eight roads in the Clutha district have been reopened.

Further north, lines company Vector said all homes in Auckland left without electricity after the weekend's wild weather had been reconnected.

Nearly 300 were still without power last night in small pockets in the city's central and eastern areas.

Workers have also reconnected the last few properties in Maraetai cut off when a car hit a power pole on Sunday night.

Today's forecast storm will be the third in a week. Parts of the country were lashed by gales and rain last Thursday, disrupting transport, closing roads and cutting power.

A tree that was brought down on a suburban street in Mt Eden in Auckland.

A tree that was brought down on a suburban street in Mt Eden in Auckland at the weekend. Photo: Supplied / Vector Energy

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