Significant westerly wind event triggers severe weather warnings, New Zealand

windstorm alert new zealand september 16 and 17 2023

Over the weekend of September 16 – 17, 2023, New Zealand’s MetService forecasts an intense westerly wind event across the South Island and the southern half of the North Island. This anticipated event could be more disruptive than yesterday’s strong winds, which resulted in power outages in Wairarapa.

Following significant wind event that led to power disruptions in Wairarapa on September 14, MetService predicts an even more potent westerly wind event over the coming weekend. This meteorological event is slated to impact the entirety of the South Island, extending its influence up to the southern regions of the North Island, particularly areas south of Taupō.

MetService’s meteorologist, Andrew James, shed light on the rarity of this upcoming phenomenon. He highlighted that while spring is known to be the windiest season, it’s been several years since they’ve observed a westerly wind pattern of this magnitude. “Spring is traditionally the windiest season, but we have not seen a typical spring for a couple of years.”

With this upcoming weather system, Severe Weather Watches and Warnings have been issued. The first alert signs will be felt in the Canterbury High Country, with warnings effective from 13:00 LT on Saturday. This will be succeeded by strong winds advancing towards the lower North Island on Sunday morning. Wellington is expected to come under a weather warning starting 11:00 LT on Sunday.

Those planning to travel with trucks, caravans, trailers, or motorbikes should exercise caution and consider delaying their trips if possible. Road closures may occur so keep up to date with road conditions through Waka Kotahi.

Apart from the strong winds, MetService has issued Heavy Rain Warnings for the western South Island, with rainfall estimates hovering around 200 mm (8 inches) over the next few days.

James firmly stated that while rain is a concern, the primary focus remains on the winds. “Boaties: Check your moorings. Parents: Tie down your trampolines. Road users: Check your journey before you set off. Everyone south of about Taupō needs to be aware we are in store for a very windy weekend.” 


1 Very Windy Weekend Ahead – MetService – September 15, 2023

Featured image credit: MetService


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