Strongest gusts ever recorded were in small east coast town

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Along with road closures, damaged signs, intense turbulence and cars being blown off course the winds that lashed the country last weekend reached records never seen before, particularly for one small North Island town.

The record gust hit 246kph, just 4kph off the top speed of a Westpac Rescue Helicopter which reaches speeds of up to 250kmh.

MetService said the pummelling gusts at Cape Turnagain, just 5km south of rural town Herbertville, with a population of around 120 people, were the highest ever recorded – residents in the area weren’t surprised.

“It is one of the windiest places in New Zealand, and we do get really strong winds this time of year,” local Pat Murphy chuckled.

“Everybody out here learns to live with it, the trees go at an angle and if you want something to stay put you’ve got to tie it down,” he said.

Deputy Mayor of the Tararua District Council, Erana Peeti-Webber said: “It’s (Herbertville) renowned for wind.”

What did surprise the Peeti-Webber though was there were no power outages in Herbertville and, instead Pongarua, south-west of the town, still had 376 customers without power from the gales on Thursday.

“All I know is there were quite a lot of trees down on farms and a lot of slipping in that area. It’s not stable, and we’re still recovering, so this is just another thing,” Peeti-Webber said.

Strong gusts were felt all over the country and the capital city bore the strongest gusts for an urban area. A MetService spokesperson said it reached 131kph last weekend.

Places in the South Island also got thrashed by gales including the Canterbury High Country near Methven reaching 212kph, Aoraki Mount Cook 178kph and Castlepoint 174kph.

Air New Zealand cancelled 60 flights due to the “damaging gusts” and firefighters attended multiple call-outs to wind-stricken places around the country.

The massive gusts were just the beginning with more westerly winds set to sweep through New Zealand.

The best advice, according to James, is to keep those trampolines tied down a bit longer.

Source: Stuff