A 15-meter wave entered Wellington Harbor and hit the southern coast overnight.
While the most significant waves were about 6 meters high overnight, a brutal 15-meter wave was recorded on a buoy at the harbor mouth at 8.30pm, said Amy Rossiter, a metrologist at MetService.
“It’s a little lower now. Everything is in its relaxed direction,” she said. But the waves can swell again at high tide, after 9 a.m.
Temperatures are set to rise across the capital on Wednesday morning, as the rains recede and move eastward.
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In the coastal suburb of Ohiro Bay, the western portion of Ohiro Bay Parade was still closed early Wednesday morning, with debris strewn across roads but no visible damage to homes. However, by 7.40am, more than an hour after the high tide, waves were already rolling onto the road.
Andy Foster, Mayor of Wellington, said the worst of the weather seemed to be over, but as the tide rose, residents had to remain vigilant.
“No homes were damaged, but there is a lot of debris on the road – so for now, removing that will be our focus.”
The high tide will strike Wednesday morning at 9:18 a.m. and may cause additional damage to at-risk areas, including Breaker Bay and Ohiro Bay.
Derek Baxter, Wellington Civil Defense Superintendent, said in a statement that Breaker Bay Road will remain closed to traffic, including residents, until a safety review is conducted at 10 a.m.
The Ohiro Bay motorcade to the west of the bridge was also scheduled to remain closed to all but residents’ traffic on Wednesday morning while the road was cleared.
Baxter was taking a precautionary approach on advice from MetService and NIWA that large southern bulges will continue to hit the south coast of Wellington during high tide after 9am.
“The risk statement is worse than last night’s high tide due to wave energy.”
The local emergency declared Tuesday afternoon will be reviewed later Wednesday morning.
Baxter said the waves swept coastal roads in multiple areas and the contractors had a big job to do.
In an online statement, the Wellington Area Emergency Management Office (WREMO) said crews will begin clearing rubble along the south coast this morning and assessing the damage. Fire and Emergency Director Belinda Bates confirmed that crews were not called in for any weather-related incidents during the night.
Late morning and afternoon should see a turning point for the storm, said Philippa Murdoch, a meteorologist at MetService.
The intensity of the storm is expected to gradually begin to fade, with waves dropping to 4 meters due to the high tide in the evening.
Cold south winds will continue, but will also subside from Tuesday, dropping from gale force to active southwesterly.
Power outages hit several suburbs late Tuesday night, including Stokes Valley, Johnsonville, Polcott, Utea and Runaway in Borrero.
Wellington Mayor Andy Foster declared a local emergency at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, a requirement to issue evacuation orders.
Residents of Breaker Bay Road Estates 53 to 194 were asked to leave their homes before the tide rose in the evening.
Roadblocks have been set up in Wahine Memorial Park and Branda Trail at the north and south entrances to Breaker Bay to prevent people from entering the area.
Don and Helen Burrett were among dozens of residents who had to evacuate their homes overnight. Don climbed up the aisle with wooden planks before the couple left.
“We are ready, we have an emergency kit in both cars, we are all ready in case of a tsunami, we have a water supply,” he said.
Arctic eruptions hit much of Wellington on Tuesday. In the morning, hilly areas saw intermittent snow, sleet and hail across parts of the capital.
Ross Giblin / The Stuff
Don and Helen Burrett prepare to vacate their home in Breaker Bay as massive waves hit the south coast of Wellington.
Crews closed off parts of the Ohiro Bay Parade around 8:30 p.m. before the tide rose.
Interislander canceled all ferry crossings for Wednesday because conditions on Cook Strait would be too dangerous for sailing.
The Wellington Metservice warning of severe bloating is in effect until 11 p.m. Wednesday.
An update on swell warnings will be released by 2 p.m. Wednesday.