It's going to get rough
By BRITTON BROUN - The Dominion Post
Last updated 05:00 23/05/2009

A severe wind warning has been issued as gusts of up to 140kmh bear down on Wellington.

MetService forecaster Oliver Druce said yesterday's bleak weather was only going to get worse as southerly gusts increased today, reaching gale-force speeds of up to 140kmh in exposed places.

The low was also expected to bring heavy rain in the coastal hills of Wairarapa, southern and eastern slopes of the Tararua Range, and Wellington.

Average wind speeds of 110kmh are predicted today around Wellington, Wairarapa and top of the South Island enough to bring branches down on to powerlines and send rubbish bins flying down streets.

"It's going to be a totally dismal day, with the wind, rain and cold," Mr Druce said. "The maximum temperature will be about 11 degrees but the wind will make that feel colder. It's not the kind of day to be doing outdoors activities and ferries could be cancelled."

Forecasters have predicted waves of up to 11 metres in Cook Strait. Interislander spokesman Nigel Parry said the company was keeping a close eye on the weather but last night the passenger ferry Kaitaki was still scheduled to sail to Picton at 8.25am today.

"We're anticipating some swells but it's too early to say if it will be too rough to take passengers."

Heavy snow is forecast for the central North Island and heavy rain for Canterbury. Mr Druce said the bad weather would begin to die down by tomorrow but remain until Wednesday.

Police have warned people driving high-sided vehicles, motorbikes, or towing caravans to take extreme care on the roads around Wellington, especially the Rimutaka Hill Road.

"Generally motorists should watch their following distance and make sure they drive to the conditions," a spokesman said. "That's one thing people tend to forget when the weather turns bad."

From here.