Much-needed rain expected this weekend

By APNZ staff, Mike Dinsdale -

The remains of Cyclone Sandra and an approaching trough is likely to bring much-needed rain to most parts of the country this weekend.

Heaviest downpours are expected on the West Coast of the South Island with lighter rainfall over the North Island, said MetService.

Further showers are likely on Monday as a cooler southerly spreads over the country.

The anticyclones that have dominated the weather over New Zealand for the past few weeks will make way for the first good chance of decent rainfall this weekend, MetService spokesperson Dan Corbett says.

How much rain will fall in drought stricken areas will depend on how well the tropical air interacts with the approaching upper trough, as well as how quickly these weather systems cross New Zealand.

MetService said the expected rainfall will not be enough to make up the large rainfall deficits in many places but it will be a good step in the right direction.

The rain is likely to be followed by a period of showers on Monday as a cooler southerly spreads over the country, before an anticyclone moves back over the country later next week.

The forecast has also sparked a warning from police and transport officials about dangerously slippery roads.

Northland police highway patrol acting manager Sergeant Lance Goulsbro said rain after a long, dry spell made the roads slippery and potentially dangerous for unsuspecting motorists.

"The roads will definitely be more greasy after rain as it brings the oil up to the surface, so it's good to remind people now that they will need to slow down and drive more carefully. It's no use telling them after it rains," Mr Goulsbro said.

He said the hot weather had also brought tar up to the surface in some places and rain on those spots could be dangerous.

"People will need to slow down and increase their gap between the vehicle in front to give themselves more time to stop if they need to," Mr Goulsbro said.

NZ Transport Agency director for Auckland and Northland, Stephen Town, said people would need to take care on wet highways and roads.

"All summer long, dust, dirt, oil and other debris builds up on the surface and when it rains, those ingredients combine and get stirred up to make driving conditions slippery and dangerous. Conditions are at the worst in the first few hours of rain, and light rain is more of a challenge than a heavy downpour."

He said one of the most common causes of a wet weather crash was driving too fast for the conditions.

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