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South Island weather warning, strong winds, rain on West Coast

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The MetService has issued a heavy rain warning for the west and north of the South Island for Saturday 23 July and a strong wind warning for Fiordland and Southland with gusts up to 140km/h.

In strong winds, people are encouraged to drive only if really necessary. Anyone with a high-sided vehicle, towing a caravan or riding a motorcycle should be aware of the risk. Please bear the following information in mind, said Transport Agency Journey Manager Lee Wright:

There are three potential problems to be aware of if you're driving in high winds:

You can be blown off course

Keep both hands on the wheel, particularly if you're being buffeted by the wind or the slipstreams of other vehicles and anticipate stronger winds and gusts on exposed stretches of road or when passing high-sided vehicles.

It's important to keep your speed down too. The faster you're travelling the further off-course you're likely to drift in a sudden gust before you get the vehicle back under control.

Other vehicles can be blown into your path

High-sided vehicles and caravans are most affected by high winds but sudden gusts can blow any vehicle off course. Keep your distance from other traffic and take particular care around cyclists, motorcyclists and horse-riders.

If you break down on the motorway or on any busy road in gusty weather it's important to bear in mind that trucks and other high-sided vehicles could be blown off course suddenly and may veer onto the hard shoulder. It's safer to move to a safe location away from the vehicle rather than wait in the car to be rescued.

There could be trees or other debris in the road

Inevitably, some trees or branches will come down when winds are high. If you see small branches in the road there could easily be a tree or large branch on the road around the next bend. Keep your speed down and drive with care.

Trees can partially fall and hang above the road, sometimes above the sweep of the headlights, making them very difficult to spot.

If you do have to drive despite the weather

In case of an emergency, always carry a fully-charged mobile phone and warm, weatherproof clothing, food and water.

Plan journeys and check weather and traffic bulletins – low speed limits or even temporary closures may be imposed on exposed bridges and road closures due to falling debris or accidents will be more frequent.

The Transport Agency’s Winter Journeys(external link) campaign aims to encourage drivers to be safe and plan ahead to reduce the risk of crashes over the winter months.

Check Facebook NZ Transport Agency South Island(external link), Twitter West Coast/ Canterbury(external link), Twitter  Otago /Southland(external link),  phone 0800 4 Highways, 0800 44 44 49

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