October 7, 2008

Strong Winds Force Suspension of Flights in Wellington

Strong winds force suspension of flights in Wellington

WELLINGTON, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- Strong winds lashing the New Zealand capital of Wellington forced airlines to suspend flights in and out of Wellington Airport on Tuesday.

The MetService recorded gusts of 130 kmh around the city Tuesday morning and nearly 160 kmh on Mount Kaukau. The northwesterlies were being accompanied by rain, the New Zealand Press Association reported.

A Wellington Airport spokesman said a small number of flights had to be diverted when winds became too strong this morning and all flights had since been suspended.

He said many of the early morning flights from Wellington had departed and therefore the airport lounges were not too crowded.

High winds also closed the Rimutaka Hill Road on State Highway 2 Tuesday morning after a car on the Wairarapa side of the hill was blown into a bank. No one was injured.

The MetService said the front bringing the extreme weather was expected to clear the North Island by Tuesday night, but as it eased in the lower North Island it would peak in other areas as far north as Auckland this afternoon.

Meanwhile, the conditions were bringing heavy rain to parts of the South Island and some snow to Queenstown.

The weather patterns prompted the MetService to issue a warning on Monday about potential damage and disruption.

While the rain was expected to ease as the front passed, winds would remain strong for a couple of days, forecasters said.

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