Traffic on the Napier-Taupo Highway was disrupted for about three hours yesterday after a truck's trailer was flipped by strong gusts at a notorious wind-spot near Te Haroto.
But one heavy-vehicle driver believes the mishap might never have happened if highway authorities had taken heed of wind warnings he provided on the road more than two hours before the trailer tipped over about midday.
The trailer, which flipped on Windy Gap, 55km northwest of Napier on State Highway 5 and 5km south of Te Haroto, was left straddling two lanes for more than two hours before a heavy vehicle salvage unit arrived about 2pm.
Traffic was confined to one lane, but it was not until soon after 3pm that police advised that the scene was cleared and both lanes were back in use.
Police had issued a wind warning soon after learning of the mishap, in which the driver of the truck, which remained upright, was not injured.
Another heavy vehicle driver, Tony "Axel" Alexander, contacted the NZTA about the winds as he was driving through mid-morning. He said it wasn't until "after the fact" that a warning was posted in road-user highway condition updates, as winds were otherwise reported to be abating.
A regular user of the highway, he said: "I was in a 7500kg heavy vehicle and got blown from one side of the road to the other. It took everything I had to keep it upright."
On Facebook, Lizz Davidson, a motorist who reported the crash, said in her post: "Never experienced anything like it up there, very scary!"
Mr Alexander later told Hawke's Bay Today he contacted NZTA about 9.30am after being "pushed" across the road by the wind, and told the agency large-sided vehicles, trailer and motorbikes would all be at risk. He also stopped at the Tarawera Tavern to get the proprietor to alert motorists heading towards Hawke's Bay.
"As far as I'm aware no warnings were posted on their travel site or on the road info emails," he said. "They ask for you to advise them of things like that. If they're not then going to pass it in to the general public, what's the use reporting it."
National weather agency MetService reported winds at Hawke's Bay Airport about the time of the mishap gusted up to 70km/h and said they would have been stronger at the scene.
While a severe weather warning was in place for many parts of the country, Hawke's Bay is under a severe weather watch with the possibility of west or northwesterly gusts up to 100km/h in exposed places today.
The weekend weather did bring slight relief for farmers with rainfall this year in many places less than half the historic average, although less than 10mm of rain was recorded at most key weather stations on Saturday and Sunday. The heaviest rainfall appeared to have been 13.5mm at Te Haroto, with 11.5mm at one site in more remote Northern Hawke's Bay.