Trees and powerlines down in Taranaki with wind set to hit battered Wellington

Trees and powerlines have been downed as strong winds hit the Taranaki region and kept firefighters working hard this evening.

Despite weather reports indicating Wellington was to get the worst of the winds, so far it seems to be the western coast that's copping the worst of it.

Central fire service communications shift manager Jan Wills said some 30 calls had been received in the last three hours - all weather related.

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She said there were a number of trees and powerlines down in the Taranaki area, along the stretch of road that travelled between Eltham, Opunake and Kaponga.

"It's due to the heavy rain and strong winds," she said. "If people are driving on the roads just be careful, all through that area so as not to drive into any fallen trees, or powerlines for that matter."

Wills expected it would be a steady night ahead for fire crew in the central part of the country, though she had her fingers crossed it wouldn't be as busy as it was in the early hours after the magnitude 7.5 quake.

"We've just had a severe weather warning for Wellington, the Wairarapa and Taranaki areas, for strong winds."

She said a few tremours were continuing to rattle the area, but so far all the callouts this evening were weather related.

Meanwhile Wellingtonians were expected to be battening down already battered hatches, as the winds began to pick up.

MetService had forecast winds of up to 140km/hr were expected to tear through the already quake-damaged capital.

Rain was falling in the city, and winds were beginning to blow, but NZME reporter Melissa Nightingale, who is in Lower Hutt, said it wasn't too bad yet.

"It's starting to pick up, I can see the curtains in the guestroom blowing," she said. "There were some fairly decent puddles on the motorway, but the rain wasn't freakishly heavy."
Earlier in the evening, shortly before 8pm MetService meteorologist April Clark said winds were gusting between 80km/h to 100km/h but were expected to lift soon.

Clark said winds of this speed had the potential to cause serious damage - though Wellington was usually well equipped to deal with it.

"We get this a lot [in Wellington], but obviously with buildings perhaps being a little damaged already, with windows already smashed, it's not the best."

People are still picking up the pieces in the capital, after this morning's quake, which rattled thousands of people throughout the country, damaged buildings and windows in the capital and downed power lines.

The central business district was a virtual ghost town, as buildings were assessed and people were advised to stay away.

Clark said while the winds were still expected to get stronger, it should not get any wetter than it already was.

"Bulk of it is coming on, with one big rain band coming over now, that's the worst of it."

Clark said those in the quake-stricken town of Kaikoura, which has already been hit by a number of landslides and slips after the tremor, were also at risk from the stormy weather.

However, the meteorologist did not expect it would be hit too hard.

"It will rain, briefly, but it shouldn't be too bad, only really expecting a few spots," she said.

- NZ Herald

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