High winds wreak havoc

By Emily Norman -
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Masterton Fire Service staff responded to a fallen tree in Renall Street, Masterton, which damaged a phone line and narrowly missed the power line.
Masterton Fire Service staff responded to a fallen tree in Renall Street, Masterton, which damaged a phone line and narrowly missed the power line.

High winds wreaked havoc throughout Wairarapa over the weekend, tearing down trees, flattening fences and knocking out power around the region.

Fire services in Wairarapa were called to about 20 wind-related emergencies yesterday, with Masterton being the hardest hit.

Other callouts happened in Carterton, Greytown, Featherston and Martinborough.

Incidents included trees on powerlines, trees blowing into houses, trees on roofs, fences blown over, and trampolines being relocated to different properties.
Masterton fire service officer Mike Cornford

At their strongest, gusts were recorded at 120kmh in Masterton, 135kmh at Castlepoint, and a huge 154kmh on the Rimutaka Hill.

The wind, which qualified as an "extreme" weather event, is set to die down today, but could return later this week.

Masterton fire service officer Mike Cornford said crews were called to emergencies and incidents ranging from "trees on powerlines, trees blowing into houses, trees on roofs, fences blown over, and trampolines being relocated to different properties".

His crew attended callouts almost non-stop between 10am until 3pm yesterday.

"So it was a very busy day," he said.

"Roofing iron was lifting on the Caltex service station that required some remedial work - that's the roof that came down last week - and we've also had a couple of medical emergencies on top of it all not related to the wind."

Two houses in Gordon St Masterton were damaged by a toppled tree, which took out guttering and a chimney.

Homeowners Michelle and Ben Clausen said they "heard this great crash" and knew something was wrong.

"I came rushing downstairs and we noticed that the fireplace flue was completely on its side," Mrs Clausen said.

"So we came outside and yeah the tree had taken the whole fireplace out."

She said the neighbours were away but "would get a big shock when they come back".

Meanwhile Powerco field staff were kept busy from midnight on Saturday with the high winds causing many faults which affected several hundred customers.

About 230 Greytown properties were without power early yesterday morning, and at Mt Bruce and Solway 300 customers went without power for several hours in the morning after powerlines were damaged.

About 100 Carterton properties were without power from 10am, and another 100 in the Mataikona and Castlepoint area lost power at 1pm.

MetService meteorologist Chelsea Glue said gusts reached 120kmh at Masterton's Hood aerodrome shortly after noon yesterday.

The gust of 154kmh on the Rimutaka Hill was recorded in the early hours of yesterday.

She said the cause of the wild weather was an "unstable westerly flow".

"We've had some really unstable westerlies... and that's funnelling the wind across the country.

Winds would "ease off" today, with tomorrow to be more settled, but with a cold start to the day.

However, from Wednesday more high winds were due, bringing with them showers.

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