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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Heavy rain and gales to batter North Island

Gales, heavy rain, snow and coastal flooding are expected to emphasise the arrival of winter in the next few days.

The culprit is a deep approaching low which will cross the country overnight tomorrow and into Wednesday.

MetService said associated rain bands would spread over both islands, with very cold air moving onto the South Island.

"There will be heavy rain and strong winds on one side of the weather system and bitterly cold air with snow on the other," meteorologist Daniel Corbett said.

Travel by road could be difficult in Canterbury and Marlborough, with snow expected to low levels over the South Island, including heavy falls over north Canterbury and inland Marlborough from tomorrow night into Wednesday. Snow depths could be over 40cm in places.

The main area of rain and strong winds would spread in across northern and western parts of the country during the day tomorrow, with heavy bursts of rain and northerly gales likely.

High king tides tomorrow evening could bring a risk of coastal flooding around the coasts of Waikato, Auckland, Northland and Bay of Plenty.

A severe weather warning said rain was expected  to become heavy tomorrow afternoon in the eastern ranges of Bay of Plenty and Gisborne north of Ruatoria, with up to 100mm in the 18 hours from 3pm, MetService said.

For the ranges of Buller and northwest Nelson, rain was expected to become heavy around noon tomorrow, with up to 150mm falling over 24 hours.

MetService spokesman Daniel Corbett said a storm system would push warm air and northerlies across the North Island, and a southerly front would bring bitterly cold air across the South Island.

The engine room of the system would settle over Cook Strait on Wednesday before clearing on Thursday and Friday.

The MetService has issued severe rain warnings for eastern Bay of Plenty, northern Gisborne, Buller and northwest Nelson, where 100mm or more of rain was expected.

Severe northerlies gusting to 140km/h are likely throughout much of the lower North Island including Gisborne, Hawke's Bay, Taranaki, Wanganui, Wellington and Wairarapa.

In Auckland, heavy rain and strong winds were expected later tomorrow.

"It's wet, it's windy for the likes of Auckland, and then a little bit cooler as you get into the later parts of the week," Mr Corbett said.

The heavy rain would coincide with high king tides on Tuesday evening, with a risk of coastal flooding in Auckland, Northland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty.

In the South Island, snow to low levels was expected overnight Tuesday, with heavy falls of up to 40cm in north Canterbury and inland Marlborough likely to make road travel difficult on Wednesday.

WeatherWatch forecaster Howard Joseph said the heaviest rain was expected in the Bay of Plenty and the East Cape, with strong winds further south.

"There's also a chance for some pretty heavy gales, possibly approaching the severe levels, for Wellington and the whole lower part of the North Island."

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