Motorists warned after storm leaves Sth Island roads treacherous

South Island motorists have been warned to drive with care after stormy weather left many roads under water and covered others with debris.

Police said extreme winds had brought down trees and power lines near Hanmer and Culverden and on State Highway One around the Hundalees.

They have urged drivers to exercise caution and drive to the conditions.

The MetService has warned there could be severe gales gusting to 140km/h in some exposed parts of north Canterbury and south-eastern Marlborough, which should ease this afternoon.

Nelson and the West Coast were the worst affected by stormy weather yesterday with around 90mm of rain falling in Nelson in the space of 36 hours - close to double its monthly average rainfall.

Residents were this morning cleaning up after the Matai River came within a hairsbreadth of bursting its banks and flooding parts of the city.

Roads were closed and sandbags placed along the river banks as a precaution as water levels rose.

Heavy rain on the West Coast left many roads there partially submerged, with rain warnings for the Westland Ranges, south of Otira, until 2pm.

The Fire Service was also called to clear trees from three separate parts of State Highway 1 near Kaitaia, Kawakawa and Kaikohe yesterday evening.

Click here for Transit's list of road conditions

Civil Defence and police in Nelson and Takaka were today continuing to monitor the rivers as the MetService forecast more wind and rain.

The weather was caused by a northerly flow sweeping humid subtropical air over New Zealand.

MetService severe weather forecaster Ian Miller said this kind of weather pattern was normally expected in mid-to-late summer rather than this early in the season.

But in Canterbury, the weather did little to abate the emerging drought.

Further North, Falling trees crashed on to an Auckland home and blocked roads in Northland last night as gale force winds battered the north of the country.

A tree fell on a house in Short St, Manurewa, shortly after 7.30pm but caused no structural damage. Fire safety officers decided it was safe to leave it overnight.

Radio Network weather analyst Philip Duncan said more than 300mm of rain was recorded on Mt Taranaki but much lower amounts near sea level with 61 in Stratford and just 35mm in New Plymouth.

- NZPA and Newstalk ZB

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