Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Weekend Herald and Herald on Sunday.

Weather forecast: gale force wind warning for North Island

Stormy sky over vineyards at twilight, Havelock North. Photo / Warren Buckland.
Stormy sky over vineyards at twilight, Havelock North. Photo / Warren Buckland.

Wild winds reaching gale force strength in areas and heavy rain are due to lash some parts of the country today.

While it's a warmer start to the weekend, with temperatures in both Auckland and Wellington not dipping below 10C, forecasters are predicting wild, wet weather to set in this afternoon and continue through until tomorrow.

MetService has issued a severe weather watch, warning of heavy rain and gale force winds, for Auckland, the Coromandel Peninsula, parts of the central North Island, the Hawke's Bay, Wellington and the Southern Lakes for Saturday.

HOW IS THE WILD WEATHER AFFECTING YOU? EMAIL US YOUR PICTURES

The bad weather is expected to move across the South Island today and across the North Island early on Sunday.

"This is likely to be a significant event, with potentially damaging winds across much of the country, but especially the lower North Island."

People are advised to stay up to date with the weather forecast as the weather could cause flooding, and the high winds could have the potential to be damaging and make driving in exposed areas dangerous.

Around the main centres, Auckland had a relatively warm start to the day, with a temperature of 14C. It's expected to hit a high of 18C later in the day, with a few showers hanging around before the norwesterly wind arrives.

Wellington, started the day with a cooler temperature of 11C which was expected to rise to 15C in the evening, with severe gales and gusts later in the day.

The rain was forecast to set in tomorrow, in the capital, with some thunderstorms.
The wind was expected to ease by tomorrow evening, before the sun makes a showing in time for the start of the week.

In Christchurch the weather was a little cooler, with a low of 4C overnight, rising to 15C later this afternoon. The high winds were predicted to arrive later in the day with a few showers expected tomorrow.

Meanwhile, record-breaking July temperatures are expected for parts of the North Island today.

Temperatures up to 21C could be reached in parts of Auckland, Waikato and Northland today as long as the sun comes out, WeatherWatch analyst Philip Duncan said.

"Saturday will be unseasonably warm across most of the North Island due to a subtropic wind flow coming from Queensland," he said. "As a result, a few records could be broken."

But tonight it will be colder than average across the country.

Severe gale winds up to 120km/h will whip up from the foot of the South Island overnight bringing rain to most areas by tomorrow.

"Strong northwesterlies will move north from the South Island on Saturday reaching places like Wellington later in the day," Duncan said.

"These could reach hurricane force in the Cook Strait, then hug the coast up through Taranaki before reaching Waikato and Auckland.

"This could lead to some bumpy flights in and out of Auckland Airport on Sunday.

"But the rain that will come with the winds will be welcome in Canterbury where there is a drought."

Police have issued warnings to motorists to take extra care in the central district this weekend - particularly on and around the Desert Road.

Three people died in a crash on the Desert Rd on Monday when a car and a truck collided.

But while snow could fall in the area at the weekend, it was not likely to be as heavy as it was last week and icy conditions were not expected due to the strong winds.

By tomorrow temperatures across the country will be more typical for this time of year - from 11C to 15C.

"People are complaining about how cold it has been this winter," Duncan said.

"But it has actually been pretty normal for this time of year.

"Some of the unusually warm weather we have been having just makes it seem like it is colder."

Today's forecast

Whangarei: 19C. A few showers, clearing for a time this afternoon. Northwesterlies strong at times.

Auckland: 18C. A few showers, clearing for a time this afternoon. Northwesterlies strong at times.

Tauranga: 18C. Rain easing to a few showers.

Hamilton: 18C. Showers clearing for a time this afternoon.

Wellington: 16C. Occasional rain, heavy tonight. Northwesterlies, severe gusts later.

- additional reporters

- NZ Herald

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