New Zealand / Weather

Auckland Harbour Bridge almost closed as winds batter NZ

12:54 pm on 27 September 2020

Severe wind gusts almost closed lanes on the Auckland Harbour Bridge this morning, while Hutt City council workers have been out clearing roads of debris and flooding after heavy rain and severe winds.

Weather warnings and watches have been issued for almost all areas around the country with MetService warning that much of the country is in for strong winds and rain over the next few days.

NZTA warned earlier this morning that it may need to close all of the lanes on the harbour bridge if the wind gusts hit the peak levels predicted.

Senior journey manager Neil Walker said the threshold for closing lanes was the wind gusting up to 80 kilometres an hour, and the wind got to 74 kilometres an hour before easing back just after 10am.

He said Metservice has said the worst of the morning's windy weather front has now passed over Auckland, so they are standing down on lane closures for now.

Walker said they had lowered the thresholds for closing lanes due to the accident last week when a wind gust sent a truck into a truss, requiring two lanes to be closed for repairs.

Further south, a snow fall warning has been issued for many of New Zealand high passes, including for the Desert Road.

MetService is warning of snow from this afternoon on Arthur's Pass, Lindis Pass, Milford Road, Lewis Pass, Haast Pass, and the Crown Range Road from this afternoon, with the highest falls in Milford Road of up to 50 centimetres of snow.

Snow is expected on the Dunedin to Waitati Highway overnight tonight.

Snow showers are also expected on the Desert Road on Monday morning from 7am until midday.

Meanwhile, roads on the West Coast, Tasman and Nelson have been affected by debris on the road and flooding, with particular flooding between Westport to Mokihinui, and from Westport to Inanghua.

John Middleton, the head of Hutt City Council's Infrastructure Contracts, said flooding near Seaview, Petone and the eastern bays had now dissipated, but Block Road near Melling remained closed.

He said there were also some minor slips, and Wainuiomata Hill Road was down to one lane due to a large tree across the road.

MetService meteorologist Tom Adams said there are several fronts moving up the country and before each front, the winds will pick up.

He said the only parts of the country without a wind warning are parts of Clutha and Manawatū/Whanganui.

"It certainly doesn't mean that every last place and every last sheltered valley is going to see a strong gust, but certainly if you're trying to get from A to B you're likely to go across some part of the transport network that has seen some strong gusts."

Adams said anyone travelling around the country today should be on the look out for downed branches and debris and areas of flooding.

There are no reports to the Fire Service of damage from the winds so far.

The Transport Agency says because it is the first weekend of the school holidays, there are likely to be more people travelling.

MetService has issued a raft of warnings for areas in both the North and South islands.

There are weather watches or warnings in place for the whole of the North Island, that includes heavy rain and strong wind warnings for much of the central and lower North Island, as well as Gisborne and Hawke's Bay.

Up to 90mm or rain and wind gusts of up to 120km/h is expected in these regions.

Warnings and watches are also in place for the entire South Island.