26 Sep 2017

Gales disrupt Wellington flights

12:49 pm on 26 September 2017

Strong winds have disrupted flights at Wellington Airport and brought down trees in the capital this morning.

People wait at Wellington airport after foul weather forced the cancellation and delay of dozens of flights.

Travellers flying through Wellington Airport have been urged to check flights are running on time. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Heavy rain and severe northwest gales whipping parts of central New Zealand are forecast to last until tomorrow.

Strong cross-winds forced the cancellation of least five flights in or of Wellington and delayed a further seven.

Wellington Airport said conditions had now calmed, and while further delays were not expected, it advised anyone flying into and out of Wellington today to double-check flights were running on time.

The city council said strong winds brought down two trees in the suburb of Churton Park this morning, but there was no other weather-related damage they were aware of.

Bluebridge and Interislander ferries were running on time as of 10am, with a spokesperson saying ferries were unlikely to be affected because the prevailing winds were northerlies.

MetService said northern parts of Wellington and the Hutt Valley could have rainfall of up to 150mm before dusk.

The Transport Agency (NZTA) said Waihenga Bridge on State Highway 53 near Martinborough has closed due to rising river levels.

MetService said a very strong, moist northwest flow over the central and northern part of the country is bringing heavy rain for the west and gales for much of central New Zealand.

About 130mm to 180mm of rainfall was forecast to fall on Mt Taranaki up to mid-afternoon. Buller and northwest Nelson was tipped to get 80mm before this evening - with even more in the ranges.

The eastern Bay of Plenty ranges, and the central North Island hill country were likely to get a soaking today and the Rai Valley should expect a period of heavy rain until late morning.

Wellington and the Marlborough Sounds would also continue to be hit by strong winds, with gusts up to 130km/h expected until tonight.

Hawke's Bay, Taihape, Wairarapa and the Tararua District could all 120km/h gusts at times today, and Gisborne, Taranaki, Whanganui and Nelson all faced winds approaching severe gales through to the afternoon and evening.

NZTA has warned of there were strong winds on the Desert Road on SH1 and the Rimutaka Hill on SH2.

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