October 9, 2008

Wild Weather Kicks Up a Storm

By NEEMS, Jeff; BRENNAN, Nicola

Wild spring weather contributed to a car crash, caused surface flooding and cut power to some parts of the Waikato yesterday.

Elsewhere in the North Island, winds of up to 165km/h thwarted travel plans for many, damaged roofs and windows, and contributed to the death of a Dunedin woman on Mt Taranaki.

Environment Waikato emergency officer Adam Munro said wind gusts of up to 50km/h were recorded in the higher reaches of the Coromandel and around Matamata. Hamilton's wind strengths peaked at 35km/h.

Hamilton had 30.5mm of rain for the 24 hours to 7am today. West of Te Kuiti more than 50mm of rain was recorded. In other parts of the region, including around Taupo, rainfall exceeded 50mm.

The consistent rain swelled Waipa River tributaries around Otorohanga and caused surface flooding.

Mr Munro said Waikato River levels were not a concern, and with plenty of "capacity" in the hydro system EW staff would continue to monitor the situation. He expected river levels to exceed the current 14.1m Hamilton mark within two days. Wel Networks control systems manager Alan Harrop said the wind caused power cuts in Ruapuke and Pirongia. An aging power pole on Resthill Cres had been given "a final nudge" and blown over, causing a short controlled powercut in the Hamilton region about 7pm. In Ruapuke, heavy winds caused a two-hour outage for about 230 customers.

The weather contributed to a road crash south of Te Kuiti from which people were flown to Waikato Hospital.

A man was seriously injured and his female passenger critically injured when their car and a truck collided, and then their car and a second car collided.

The 17-year-old female passenger was this morning in a critical condition in Waikato Hospital's intensive-care unit.

See Taranaki death, page 26


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