Sunday, 14 October 2012

Extreme Weather in New Zealand on Saturday, 13 October, 2012 at 18:48 (06:48 PM) UTC.

Wild weather grounded planes, caused an avalanche, and left 700 cruise ship passengers stranded as a vicious storm lashed the country yesterday. Power was cut to hundreds of homes across greater Auckland and windows were blown out in the severe conditions keeping emergency services and glaziers busy. "It was quite vile out there for the faults crews," Vector spokeswoman Sandy Hodge said. Tall buildings in Auckland's CBD created "wind tunnels" where gusts topped 110km/h, WeatherWatch analyst Philip Duncan said. Wind cracked a large window pane on the 10th floor of the Stamford Plaza in Albert St, forcing firefighters to send it smashing to the street below. A section of the street was cordoned off as firefighters used the room's curtains to pushed the glass on to the footpath. But some relief is in store: the forecast for the long weekend is expected to be calmer.

The storm's centre will move eastwards into the Pacific this morning but strong southwesterly winds could bring rain to western parts of New Zealand in the week ahead. Emergency services up and down the country had a busy night and the fire service responded to more than 180 weather-related callouts. Auckland Glass employee Gaylene Morgan said they had been bombarded with requests for window repair. "We're just going from one job to another," she said. In Canterbury, 700 mainly American and European passengers from the Sea Princess were forced to stay in hotels after severe winds made it too dangerous for them to reboard their cruise. Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism Caroline Blanchfield spokeswoman said the Akaroa community had rallied to help the stranded passengers, who were put up in Lyttleton and Christchurch hotels. In Auckland trees were knocked over in Sunnynook and Glen Innes. A house in Beach Haven was damaged when a tree fell on it, almost killing the family cat. Ruth Wilkin was relieved her cat Cuddles escaped by a 'whisker' when a tree destroyed the conservatory where she was having a nap.

Wilkin said when she saw the broken wood and shattered glass, she feared her beloved 16-year-old moggie had not managed to flee in time. But a very bedraggled cat returned half an hour later "She was just very wet, very shaken but unharmed, thank goodness. "I think she used up her nine lives today." Philip Duncan said the jury was out on whether yesterday's stormy conditions indicated a true weather bomb. In the South Island, 200- tonne rocks tumbled on to roads in Fiordland. The New Zealand Transport Agency closed the road at 4pm on Friday after the avalanche, cutting off people in Milford. Last night a female pedestrian was killed in West Auckland after stepping out on to a busy road and being hit by a car. The crash happened just after 8pm on Great North Rd, Glen Eden, near the intersection with West Coast Rd. A day of heavy rain meant the road was wet and slippery.


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