Wet and Windy

A southerly gale and driving rain kept many Wellingtonians indoors yesterday, Sunday the 29th of June 2008.

The storm arrived as forecast early in the morning, with the wind rising rapidly, bringing an early start to a bout of heavy rain. At Tawa, the heaviest downpour for the day was recorded just before 4 a.m. when the rain rate peaked at 34 mm per hour for a time. By the end of the day 43 mm of rain had been recorded making it Tawa’s wettest day so far this year. But only marginally, as 42 mm of rain was recorded on the 1st of May.

The wettest day since the automatic weather station was commissioned at Tawa at the beginning of 2005 was the 5th of July 2006 when 48 mm of rain fell.

By the time Wellingtonians climbed out of their warm beds, the storm was in full swing. Gusts of up to 150 km/hr were recorded at Mt. Kaukau and up to 120 km/hr in Lambton Harbour. Air New Zealand suspended flights from Wellington to most regional airports as the wind gusts made it dangerous for passengers trying to cross the tarmac to and from their aircraft. Flights using airbridges continued, and flights to regional destinations resumed at about 1:30 in the afternoon.

Both ferry companies suspended passenger operations across Cook Strait for most of the day as the southerly storm whipped up swells of 7 metres in the strait.

As the day progressed, state highways in the lower North Island which had been closed by snow and ice re-opened but the Desert Road (State Highway 1) did not reopen until late in the day.

At Tawa, the temperature hovered between 5 ºC and 9 ºC and the windchill of 6 ºC made for unpleasant walking conditions.

The distraction provided by the storm prevented most people from feeling the magnitude 3.3 earthquake that struck 50 km south-west of Wellington at 1:43 p.m., and only one report of the quake being felt in Wellington has been filed with GeoNet.

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