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Is this #3?!?

Update: Our roof nearly blew off today. At the moment it's being held together with cinder blocks.

Blizzard knocks planes, trains, ferries out of action
18 August 2004

UPDATED REPORT
Severe storms, with winds gusting up to 180kph, continued to batter the lower North Island today bringing widespread misery to thousands of commuters.

Wellington and the Wairarapa bore the brunt of the wild weather with no planes, trains, or ferries operating out of the capital.

Cars also struggled in coastal areas as waves dumped seaweed and debris on roads. Further north heavy snow closed scores of roads cutting off some rural areas.

Slips closed the Paraparaumu and Johnsonville Transmetro lines into the city and flights and ferries out of the capital were cancelled.

The Wairarapa is also under siege with flood warnings in place on several rivers.

Sergeant Andre Kowalczyk of the police central communications centre said police and emergency services had been flat out answering calls overnight.

Many central and lower North Island roads had closed because of snow or slips and State Highway 1 just north of Porirua was down to one lane after a tree fell across it.

State Highway 2 between Wellington and the Hutt Valley was open but was dangerous as massive waves threatened the coast hugging road: "it's open but it's extreme," he said.

In Hutt suburb Eastbourne waves had dumped debris on the main road.

"Please keep your speed down, keep your lights on and take care," he asked motorists.

MetService forecaster Marie Grey said overnight Wellington was battered by winds up to nearly 180kph. She said part of Wellington airport had lost its roof – wind speeds recorded at the airport had averaged 87kph with gusts up to 115kph.

In Mt Kaukau [we live on Mt Kaukau] near the city the average was 133kph gusting up to 178kph. The average speed for wind on the Cook Strait was 130kph gusting up to 160kph.

The Wairarapa was being hit with winds average speeds of 100kph gusting up to 135kph and Wanganui was being hit with 85kph wind. Kaikoura was hit with winds of 80kph gusting up to 105kph.

Ms Grey said the winds were likely to continue with the same intensity for most of today not easing until the evening.

A "decent amount" of rain had fallen with 60mm recorded for the Wairarapa, 130mm for Orongorongo range, 110mm for the Wainui catchment – in the Hutt Valley.

Transit regional manager Brian Hassell told National Radio getting into Wellington was "pretty grim" for some commuters.

He said the Rimutaka Hill Rd was closed because of slips and high winds. There was some surface flooding in the Hutt Valley but roads were open.

"Waves are splashing on to the road as you come along to Ngauranga" – on SH2 between the Hutt and Wellington.

He said there had been several slips but these had been cleared.

"But really people still need to take great care and just travel if you really need to you."

Tranz Metro spokeswoman Helen Keyes said all train lines into Wellington were closed affecting about 12,000 commuters.

The Johnsonville and Paraparaumu lines were closed by slips and downed trees and power lines. Massive waves had swamped the Hutt line.

Ms Keyes said it would be some time for the Johnsonville and Paraparaumu lines to open as there was so much clearing to do and there was a possibility of more slips.

"There's really no way of knowing - it depends how fast they can work to clear the lines."

The Hutt line may be able to open after high tide later this morning.

Just before 9am, Air New Zealand said the number of cancelled flights had risen to 61, affecting at least 3000 passengers.

No flights were likely before 10.30am.

Part of the roof of the Koru Lounge at Wellington Airport had been blown off, partially flooding the interior, and a Boeing 737 parked on the tarmac overnight was being inspected for possible damage. A spokesman did not know if that was caused by debris from the building.

Meanwhile Toll spokesman Paul Monk said it was too early to say how many passenger were affected by ferry cancellations: "It will be hundreds of people that are affected today."

Two return Lynx sailing and two return Interisland Ferry sailings were suspended.

The Fire Service was called out to "hundreds" of incidents overnight with roofs blown off, fences down and other widespread damage.

The control room was too busy to take calls but at the City station Senior Station Officer Mark Chapman said the night had been frantic and calls had not let up.

"Everybody is out and working flat out. We're so busy at the moment we can't even change over to the day shift because the night shift crews are still out there."

Roads closed in the central and lower North Island included SH1 between Rangipo and Taihape, SH4 between Taumarunui and Raetihi, SH47 between National Park and Junction SH41 and SH47, Napier-Taihape Road.

Several roads in the Wairarapa were closed including in Masterton, Carterton and South Wairarapa. A Wairarapa District Council spokeswoman said the Huangaroa River had flooded over a bridge crossing it.

Wellington Regional Council has issued flood warnings for rivers in the eastern Wairarapa. They were the Tinui, Taueru, Wahngaehu and Huangaroa. A WRC spokeswoman said there no flood warnings for rivers sourced in the Tararuas. She said there was surface flooding in much of the region.

Wellington City Council spokesman Richard McLean said there was "total transport chaos" around the region.

Motorists were being urged to stay off roads, particularly on the south coast because of waves and in the northern suburbs because of slips.

The road around the southern end of the airport was closed.

"There are huge waves coming across the road, bringing debris and seawater," he said.

"We are telling anyone who has to drive to use extreme care," he said. "Power lines are down, trees are coming down."

He had just had a report that a roof was coming off the large Placemakers store at Kaiwharawhara, just north of the city.

The harbourmaster's office said no problems had been reported with shipping, with most staying put. Staff were checking reports that boats had dragged their moorings in the Porirua area.

August 18, 2004 in family, Life, New Zealand | Permalink

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Comments

The joys of having Antartica as a neighbour! Yes we sure do like to freeze in NZ, it's a sign of our strength didn't you know ;)

Posted by: Natalie Ferguson at Aug 21, 2006 12:51:22 PM