Large gum tree branches were snapped by the wind at Gordon St in Lansdowne. PHOTO/ALEYNA MARTINEZ

Wild winds down trees

ARTHUR HAWKES and ALEYNA MARTINEZ

Northwesterly gusts of up to 170kmh have wreaked havoc across Wairarapa, closing the Remutaka Hill road and downing trees across the region.

However, MetService said the bad weather should cease by Saturday, leaving residents with a fine weekend to look forward to.

New Zealand Transport Agency regional transport systems manager Mark Owen advised extreme caution if using the Remutaka Hill road this week.

He said more strong winds were forecast and advised motorists to plan ahead or avoid travelling over the hill if possible.

“High-sided vehicles and motorcycles travelling over the hill need to take extra care.”

MetService meteorologist Andy Best confirmed that gusts reached 144kmh on the summit on Tuesday, with an average wind speed of 80kmh.

Best said a very windy week could be expected in Wairarapa, but that this was “typical for spring”, and that a cold front was moving up the country.

He said that, after a lull Tuesday night, Wairarapa would be thrown straight back into the northwesterlies yesterday, which would continue to blast the region, before scaling back by tomorrow evening.

Carterton District Council communications and engagement co-ordinator Elisa Vorster said it had responded to calls regarding trees and various debris sent flying due to the high winds.

In Masterton, Fire and Emergency shift manager Garry Nielsen said they attended seven callouts for wind damage, including electrical wires blown down, a trampoline blown around, and a roof that had been partially lifted off.

Fire and Emergency also attended one call to an uncontrolled fire caused by a person burning off bamboo.

Powerco also reported that power was cut to 183 customers in Pongaroa at about 5.30am on Tuesday.

“Power was restored to those customers by 1.30pm”, a Powerco spokesperson said.

A further 16 customers around Whakarua Rd near Carterton lost power at 7.45am on Tuesday after lines were brought down by a tree.

“Wind is a major factor in causing disruption to the power supply on Powerco’s electricity network when wind-blown debris and falling trees come into contact with lines.

“If members of the public come across downed lines, stay well away and call 111.”