Weather: Storm alert – Weekend gales, rain, Wellington gets wet Saturday night

A fast-moving storm system with heavy rain and gales is set to hit the capital for the second weekend running.

MetService has issued a swathe of watches and warnings across the South Island and bottom of North Island ahead of the latest frontal system set to sweep up the country from late this afternoon.

While the worst rain is reserved for Fiordland and the West Coast, a heavy rain watch is in force for the Wellington region for nine hours starting just after midnight Saturday through to 10am Sunday.

Periods of heavy rain and thunderstorms are forecast with some deluges expected to approach warning levels.

Last weekend Wellington experienced its second wettest day on record as Cyclone Dovi brought torrential downpours and gale-force winds to the capital.

Protesters on Parliament grounds battled to keep tents erect, and hay bales were brought in as the ground turned to mud because of additional saturation from the sprinkler system turned on earlier by the Speaker Trevor Mallard as a deterrent.

MetService says the front is forecast to move northeast across the South Island tonight and during Saturday, then onto the lower North Island overnight Saturday.

It is expected to deliver periods of heavy rain to parts of central and southern New Zealand, and possible severe gales to parts of the South Island.

The first watch starts at 4pmfor the southernmost regions of New Zealand with strong northerly winds getting up to gales in exposed areas.

However, the system is being described as “a less intense affair” than experienced across New Zealand in previous weekends.

“The past two weekends have been very eventful on the weather front and while this weekend isn’t completely without severe weather, it will be a less intense affair,”MetService said in a Facebook post.

“The band of rain moves through relatively quickly so it’s not looking like a whole weekend washout for anywhere. It passes over Invercargill early on Saturday, up to Wellington early on Sunday before moving off to the east.”

It was expected to weaken the further north it tracked, with Waikato expected to get a couple of showers.

Meanwhile, at the top of the country, humid air that smothered northern parts ahead of Cyclone Dovi is expected to return.

Niwa says while it won’t be as sticky as last week, those at the top of the North Island will notice humid conditions by the weekend

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