Weekend Herald

Deluge for the South, gales for the North

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Heavy rain and towering waves are pummelling western New Zealand this weekend with forecaster­s warning of dangerous conditions.

The Army was brought in to help with evacuation­s on the West Coast of the South Island last night after a state of emergency was declared in the Buller District following torrential rain and warnings for people to move to higher land.

A rare “red warning” was issued yesterday for parts of the West Coast until 6am today, with heavy rain, flooding and slips expected. Flood gates were installed at Greymouth last night and State Highway 73 closed at Arthurs Pass and SH6 at Inangahua.

Meanwhile seas of up to 5.5 metres are expected until late tomorrow for some places and the entire North Island is under strong-wind warnings and watches.

MetService forecaster Mmathapelo Makgabutla­ne said a heavy swell

We’ve got very strong winds starting from today already across the North Island and parts of the South Island so that is generating very wind-driven waves. Mmathapelo Makgabutla­ne

alert had been issued for western regions of both islands.

Big waves of up to 5 metres at the bottom of the North Island will not ease until this afternoon.

Along the Taranaki coast between Mokau and Õpunake the waves were not expected to ease until tomorrow.

Damaging gales of up to 140km/h are forecast to barrel through the regions and not expected to ease off until tonight.

Parts of Bay of Plenty and Taranaki sit under a rain warning, with up to 120mm of rain expected.

Makgabutla­ne said the mountainou­s waves were a combinatio­n of swells and wind effects.

“We’ve got very strong winds starting from today already across the North Island and parts of the South Island so that is generating very winddriven waves,” she said.

Auckland can expect rain today, heavy this afternoon but easing this evening and strong northerlie­s, gusting to 90km/h in places.

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