Batten down the hatches! Gales on the way

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Otago will not escape the heavy rain and damaging northwest winds which will affect the South Island and the lower North Island today,

Waitaki District Council (WDC) emergency services manager Chris Raine said the winds would be severe gale force on the coast to storm force in inland areas.

“The strongest winds will be in North Canterbury with wind speeds of 140mph expected in the mountains and northwesterlines should ease in Otago, Southland and Fiordland this evening,” he said.

“Fire danger will be very high today because the humidity is low, the temperatures will be mild and little rain has fallen in the past few days.

“All district fire permits are cancelled for today and all burns from last weekend must be checked to make sure they have been extinguished.

According to Mr Raine, winds of the forecast strength are likely to bring down trees, powerlines and make driving dangerous for motorcycles and high sided vehicles.

“Arching powerlines and power failures are possible and houses in exposed areas may also sustain damage,” he said.

“Around buildings and in exposed areas, strong wind gusts can also knock pedestrians over and people should stay indoors during the strongest winds.

“The strongest winds are expected between 3pm and 7pm and then ease as the large, very deep low to the south of the South Island tracks past.”

By Jacquie Webby