Trees fell as storm hammered Hawke's Bay

By Sam Hurley of Hawke's Bay Today -
Monique Weir from the Hastings District Council checks over the tree after a large branch was blown down by the wind in Swansea Road, Flaxmere, Hastings. Photo / Hawke's Bay Today
Monique Weir from the Hastings District Council checks over the tree after a large branch was blown down by the wind in Swansea Road, Flaxmere, Hastings. Photo / Hawke's Bay Today

Wind, not rain, proved to be the weapon of choice for the southerly storm that blasted through Hawke's Bay at the weekend.

Forecasters and Hawke's Bay Civil Defence warned residents about the Antarctic conditions that hit the region on Friday, which included a heavy dumping of snow on the Napier-Taihape road and severe gales.

High winds proved to be the most destructive, with a peak gust of 80km/h recorded at Hawke's Bay Airport on Friday.

Police and council workers spent much of yesterday cleaning up the storm's mess, most of which involved uprooted trees and blocked roads.

Hawke's Bay Civil Defence manager Trevor Mitchell said the region had got off "pretty lightly" compared to other parts of the country.

"We had a bit of a windy period on Friday that brought a few trees down.

"We have been monitoring the erosion at Clifton. Haumoana got hit but mainly just by debris, otherwise Haumoana and Ocean Beach are fine."

Unison Networks customer relations officer Danny Gough said lineman had been prepared for the worst but in the end "dodged a bullet".

"We were very well prepared, knowing that the storm was coming from a long way out. We took all precautions and had crews on stand-by, but luckily for us we had no power outages.

"We may have had the odd pocket here or there, a single household that went without power for a little while, but nothing significant.

"Wellington bore the brunt of it."

In Wellington, linemen struggled to restore power after more than 1200 homes were left in the dark.

While Hawke's Bay did not experience prolonged periods of heavy downpours as forecast, some areas suffered localised surface flooding.

The bitter southwesterly kept temperatures barely in double digits, with a high of 12C on Friday and 11C on Saturday in Napier, while in Hastings highs of 10C and 11C were recorded on the same days.

An Air New Zealand spokesman said six flights in and out of Hawke's Bay Airport were cancelled on Friday due to the storm. All six were to or from Wellington and were scratched due to high winds in the capital. Saturday saw the resumption of normal flight operations.

The MetService 10-day forecast predicts an extended fine spell, interrupted by a just few brief showers this week. Today, Napier will reach a high of 15C, while in Hastings a maximum temperature of 14C is expected.

Southwesterlies will keep the temperatures in the low to mid-teens, while some early morning frosts are forecast, with overnight lows dropping to 1C in the twin cities tomorrow.

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