Wind and rain eases ahead of the weekend

It's the calm after the storm across New Zealand this evening, as the wind and rain eases for the beginning of the weekend.

But it could get colder next week as a polar blast straight from Antarctica drags us back into frigid mid-winter.

"We're getting a little bit of a breather this evening across the country after what was a stormy morning in the main centres," said Philip Duncan, head weather analyst at Weatherwatch.co.nz.

As the winds ease, the sun even makes an appearance for places bathed in cloud this morning.

"It's not really cold because while the winds might be from the south-west in some parts of the country, they'll start to turn north-west. They're dying down now everywhere across the country."

But it won't be completely calm.

"It's just fading back from those strong gusts we had today to just a bit brisk."

Duncan said the most wind-swept areas today were Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin, where blustery, gale-force winds perhaps notched up 60-65km/h.

"Dunedin was very windy this morning. Wellington was quite windy around lunchtime and late morning but Auckland's been blustery all day, not it's easing everywhere."

The rain will also ease, bringing welcome relief to sodden folk at the top of the North Island.

The rain and thunderstorms of earlier hit the west coast hardest - even causing a landslip that blocked a rural road in North Taranaki, with the falling debris almost sweeping away a car.

The New Plymouth District Council says contractors are working to clear the slip on Otaraoa Rd and it will likely re-open later today.

"There were lots of big showers - some with hail, some thunder," Duncan said.

"That was coming in from Auckland right down to the Kapiti Coast line. Tonight will not be as stormy - people will sleep better."

Tomorrow, expect blustery north-westerlies, before the winds change tack again and come from the south-west.

Showers will fall "here and there" in the North Island, but it will be mainly dry. The South Island's West Coast will be wet.

But as the day goes on the north-west winds pick up, especially in Canterbury, the Cook Straight, Marlborough and Wairarapa.

A later south-west change brings cooler weather, with snow falls expected down to 100 metres above sea level in the South Island later in the weekend, Duncan said.

It could also send temperatures plummeting to -10C in some places.

But the polar blast might not leave the usual wintry destruction in its wake because of the otherwise warmer "weirdo winter" we're having, he said.

- NZ Herald

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