No respite from chilly weather: ‘It‘s not a very pretty picture‘

The chilly weather that‘s gripping the country is likely to stay around until the end of the week, when rain is on the way, MetService says.

The wild weather that has hit this week is continuing to affect many New Zealanders tonight – lightning took out the runway lighting at Wellington airport, while tens of thousands of Aucklanders are facing another cold night without power.

Just under 80,000 homes in Auckland are still without power as a result of last night‘s storm.

Vector said crews will be working through the night to restore power – but some homes may have to keep waiting for another day or two.

Auckland Emergency Management said people should check in on their neighbours, friends and family to make sure they were coping.

Vector said power has been restored to more than 100,000 customers, with 79,500 still to come online.

Spokesperson Minoru Frederiksens told a news conference this afternoon crews were being brought in from around the country and they would work 24 hours in shifts to fully restore power.

Mr Frederiksens said 129 lines were down across Auckland – mainly due to trees – but things like signage and trampolines were also responsible for damage.

“In some cases it has just passed right through [lines], so there doesn‘t appear to be evidence of trees or debris.

“But if you look 100m down the road you might find a sign or something that has actually gone through our lines.”

A cold week ahead

MetService said temperatures are forecast to plummet in the South Island tonight, making wet roads icy and bringing frost to the mainland for the first time this year.

Christchurch is expected to dip to 1°C and Reefton is expected to dip to -1°, and snow and ice and strong winds expected for inland Otago.

MetService also has a severe weather watch in place for the wider Auckland region but all trains and ferry services are operating as usual after earlier closures.

Tomorrow a north-west front – closely followed by a brisk southerly change – is expected to move up the South Island, meaning there will not be dry weather until Saturday.

But it was only expected to bring a brief respite during Sunday, with another southerly front expected that evening.

Meteorologist Ravi Kandula said that would probably bring slightly warmer temperatures, but also rain.

“It‘s not a very pretty picture for the next 6-7 days unfortunately. There‘s a number of features passing through, cold air feature for the next few days and then a warm air feature after that,‘ he said.

Lightning blows out runway lights

Earlier this evening, lightning took out the runway lighting at Wellington airport, grounding flights in and out of the capital.

A Wellington Airport spokesperson said runway and taxiway lighting has now been restored but some flights would still be delayed or cancelled.

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The lightning also set off an alarm at the Kilbirnie Pool, this evening forcing swimmers outside.

Fire communications said no one was injured.

Heavy rain and severe gales are likely to remain for many parts of the North Island. For the latest, .

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