Little relief from rain for West Coast

By Abby Gillies

West Coasters hit by a deluge of heavy rain and thunderstorms can expect little relief in coming weeks, forecasters say.

The region had been pounded by a series of severe fronts since the beginning of the year and the weather pattern was likely to continue, said Weatherwatch.co.nz head weather analyst Philip Duncan.

Rain and lightning hit the area yesterday.

Although conditions would improve in the coming weeks, the region would continue to be hit by bad weather.

"Their weather pattern that they've got, they're pretty much stuck in. At the moment it looks like it might linger for the rest of the month,'' said Mr Duncan.

Sunny days in the region would increase to a maximum of three at a time, with intermittent rainfall between.

"I think we will see plenty of cloud still but the days of rain are going to start to dry up a wee bit as we get into the second half of January.''

Meanwhile, a front would bring outbreaks of rain or showers to several parts of the country this week, said MetService meteorologist Daniel Corbett.

MetService has issued a severe weather warning for the heavy rain in Taranaki, the Tararua Range, Nelson and Marlborough and a severe weather watch for Wellington and Buller.

Council flood managers continue to monitor high river and lake levels in Wakatipu, Wanaka, and Hawea, with further rain expected on Wednesday.

The rest of the country would continue to experience spring-like weather, with changeable conditions, as it had been for the past few weeks.

This was caused by big storms in the Southern Ocean.

Sweltering temperatures in Auckland at the weekend would ease off this week, Mr Duncan said.

"We've got a refreshing change coming this week. The wind flow change is a little bit more westerly this week and away from these warm northerlies.''

Highs are expected to drop from the upper to lower 20s.

A cooler southwest flow will spread across the country later tomorrow, bringing more settled conditions in the north by the end of the week.

Between January 1 and January 12 Westport received 126.1mm of rain, Niwa climate research analyst Petra Chappell said.

That compared to 59mm over the same period last year.

The town is already more than three quarters of the way to its January 2012 total rainfall of 152.6mm and to its January normal of 158mm.

It's had three extreme weather events in the last fortnight, including possibly the worst surface flooding in 30 years on January 2.

The only West Coast river to exceed its alarm warning was the Hokitika River, which reached 4.6m at the gorge at 2.30pm. Its warning level is 3.7m.

The Buller River peaked at 4.9m at Te Kuha at 8.50pm, well below its warning level of 7.2m. On January 3 it peaked at 10m.

- APNZ

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