I love strong winds... maybe not every day...but I love them. And from my short time living in Wellington back in the 90s I still miss a good howling nor'wester and heavy rain thundering down. I love falling asleep to rain but rain tends to stop and start...wind is often constant and I find it incredibly soothing. Last night it was great to feel the house rocking to the wind...the roar of the wind in the trees and the whistling through the fence. At one stage I felt as though I was on a fishing trawler in the Southern Ocean as the house rocked, the wind slammed into the house and a squall tore through with horizontal rain that sounded like small stones hitting the windows of my office. It was quite surreal actually. Gusts at my house reached about 100km/h but further south on the Manukau Heads winds gusted to 135km/h.

Reader comments on last nights storm.

Wellingtonians were hit hardest with torrential rain lasting hours causing commuter chaos while gale force winds pounded the area. The rain was more severe than the wind though... in fact most places had very little in the way of wind damage.... to me it was just under the damage threshold but right up there at the fun threshold. Yeah, yeah, I'm a geek, I know.

Thunderstorms, tornadoes, gales, warmth - the week has had it all as a spring-like weather pattern spread across the country. The tornado in Taranaki was one of those freak isolated incidents that sometimes surprise us from the Tasman Sea. When the same frontal band that brought the rough weather to Taranaki moved in to Auckland it was razor thin but quite violent. I was woken at 2am along with many other Aucklanders as the skies above boomed loudly and the near gale winds slammed our houses. Just down the road in Waikato it was calm and dry.

The Tasman Sea is well known for producing these violent little outbursts... it was a rogue shower that brought a small tornado to my house in Waitakere City tearing apart my large gum tree and ripping my TV aerial off the roof. One street over there was no damage of any kind. It was a tiny thunderstorm that was hurled out of the Tasman. But this year the Tasman has been relatively quiet. High air pressure has certainly dominated the area and highs act like giant lids - stopping clouds from towering high and stopping the development of heavy rain and low pressure systems.

It was these highs that protected New Zealand from at least two severe tropical cyclones including Hamish which reached category 5 early this year. A number of other tropical lows were also stopped dead in their tracks from moving down to us. Likewise big violent lows from the Southern Ocean have been blocked from spreading up the Tasman Sea and along the west coast of the country.

But in the past few weeks the weather patterns have changed - significantly. The highs in the Tasman don't seem to be dominating the skies so much and more and more we're seeing lows move in from the west. This helps boost our temperatures as we get more westerlies... we've seen 3 days in a row of highs in the east of the North Island reaching 19 degrees...not bad for the middle of winter. It's a good break for easterners who have had a pretty cold winter this year dominated by southerlies and south easterlies. Of course the frosts have also been put on hold as the wind and rain cranks up a notch...they might return this weekend as an anticyclone spreads in for a couple days but I'm not anticipating anything too major.

The weekend is looking good though with skies clearing for many as a large high moves in.... but for how long? Looks like another low from the Tasman is on the horizon.

Philip Duncan