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Hot, humid night ahead, heavy rain for many

Published: 8:17AM Tuesday January 18, 2011 Source: ONE News

Heavy rain and strong winds were felt across the country this afternoon - along with high humidity.

MetService earlier issued a severe weather warning, predicting heavy rain and gales for most of northern and central New Zealand until tomorrow morning after ex-tropical cyclone Zelia with the remnants of cyclone Vania.

The predicted severe weather conditions for Nelson didn't impact as expected today, however Civil Defence is still advising caution with further heavy rainfall tonight.

Nelson Tasman Civil Defence Emergency Management Group says Metservice is warning a cautious approach with the potential for between 100 and 150 millimetres of rain to occur until midnight tonight.

The rain could be delivered in a short timeframe and raise river levels very quickly. At this stage Civil Defence says there is no cause for concern regarding the levels of any Nelson rivers.

In Westport, Buller, has borne the brunt of the wet weather in the south with heavy rain falling in many areas today.

The Fox River (half way between Greymouth and Westport and along SH6) has burst its banks and the the Westport Fire Service had to help one motorist escape the floodwaters which were thigh-deep.

Police and fire are warning anyone living along the river that they may have to evacuate if the water gets any higher and say people should try to avoid travelling along SH6.

People have been asked to leave their baches at Fox River settlement, north of Punakaiki and police and fire crews are helping people with that evacuation.

Earlier a  mudslide blocked the road at Uranium Point between Hawkes Crag and Fern Arch on the West Coast, backing up traffic for three hours.

South Island State Highway Operations Manager Peter Connors said today's rain caused the slip around 1pm.

In the lower North Island, heavy rain is forecast overnight in Taranaki, the Whanganui River Headwaters, the Tararua Ranges and the Horowhenua and Wellington Hills.

Hot and humid night all over

Hot, humid weather has also been the case for much of the country and that hadn't changed even at 8pm this evening, with 99% humidity in Nelson (on 20 degrees), 94% in Auckland (23 degrees), 92% in Hamilton (23 degrees) and 96% (22 degrees) in Wellington. Wanganui and Napier were still sitting on 26 degrees at 8.30pm.

Winds picked up in Auckland at around 5pm, with gusts of up to 70km/h recorded between 4pm and 5pm although tonight they had dropped back to around 60 km/h.

Zelia is due to pass west of Northland and Auckland this evening, move over the southern North Island tonight and pass west of the Chatham Islands tomorrow.

The lows are forecast to bring more humid conditions, heavy rain and northerly gales over much of northern and central New Zealand early Wednesday.

Rainfall of 200mm to 250mm is expected near the ranges of Westland, Buller and Nelson north of Franz Josef.

The strongest winds are likely to hit Taranaki, Taumarunui to Taihape and inland Wanganui with gusts up to 130km in exposed places this evening.

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council's Ken Tarboton says pumps and drainage systems have been checked in preparation for heavy rainfall.

"Our staff are actively monitoring the situation using tools such as our recently installed weather radar and forecast modelling systems as well as keeping in close contact with the MetService."

Tarboton said the public should be aware that the weather systems may bring periods of heavy rain and strong gale force winds over the next few days.

Check the forecast for your area here.

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