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‘Extreme’ winds batter region

By Emily Norman

[email protected]

High winds reaching more than 100kmh wreaked havoc on Wairarapa throughout the weekend, tearing down trees and knocking out power in the region.

Fire services in Wairarapa were called to about 20 wind-related emergencies throughout Sunday, with Masterton being the hardest hit.

Other callouts happened in Carterton, Greytown, Featherston and Martinborough

At their strongest, gusts were recorded at 120kmh at Castlepoint, and a huge 154kmh on the Rimutaka Hill.

The wind, which qualified as an “extreme” weather event, is set to die down today, but could return later this week.

Masterton fire service officer Mike Cornford said crews were called to emergencies and incidents ranging from “trees on powerlines, trees blowing into houses, trees on roofs, fences blown over, and trampolines being relocated to different properties”.

His crew attended callouts almost non-stop between 10am and 3pm yesterday.

“So it was a very busy day,” he said.

“Roofing iron was lifting on the Caltex service station that required some remedial work- that’s the roof that came down last week, and we’ve also had a couple of medical emergencies on top of it all not related to the wind.”

Two houses in Gordon St Masterton were damaged by a blown over tree, which took out guttering and a chimney.

Homeowners Michelle and Ben Clausen “heard this great crash” and knew something was wrong.

“I came rushing downstairs and we noticed that the fireplace flue was completely on its side,” Mrs Clausen said.

“So we came outside and yeah the tree had taken the whole fireplace out.”

She said the neighbours were away but “would get a big shock when they come back”.

Meanwhile Powerco field staff were kept busy from midnight on Saturday with the high winds which caused many faults affecting several hundred customers.

About 230 Greytown customers lost power early yesterday morning and at Mt Bruce and Solway 300 customers went without power for several hours in the morning after powerlines were damaged.

About 100 Carterton properties were without power from 10am, and 100 people in the Mataikona and Castlepoint area lost power at 1pm.

MetService meteorologist Chelsea Glue said gusts reached 120kmh at Masterton’s Hood Aerodrome shortly after noon yesterday.

The gust of 154kmh on the Rimutaka Hill was recorded in the early hours of Sunday.

She said the cause of the wild weather was an “unstable westerly flow”.

“We’ve had some really unstable westerlies… and that’s funnelling the wind across the country.

Winds would “ease off” today, with tomorrow to be more settled, but with a cold start to the day.

However, from Wednesday more high winds were due, bringing with them showers.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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