Winter Storm Disrupts Air Traffic in New Zealand

June 24, 2013

A winter storm bearing powerful winds disrupted air traffic across New Zealand on Friday and cut power to thousands of homes, forced schools to close and generated record-sized waves.

The capital, Wellington, got blasted with winds of more than 130 kilometers (81 miles) per hour. The gusts disrupted bus, rail and road transportation, brought down trees and power lines and ripped tiles from suburban roofs. About 28,000 homes in Wellington lost power.

Ocean waves measuring 15 meters (49 feet) from trough to peak were recorded near Wellington by a government agency. The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research said the waves, measured from a buoy about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) out to sea, were the largest it had recorded near the capital since it began taking measurements in 1995. The waves washed away parts of some coastal roads and seawalls.

The storm also brought heavy snow to some parts of the South Island.

National carrier Air New Zealand canceled all Wellington flights Friday morning and said it would resume limited service in the afternoon. It warned that passengers could expect ongoing disruptions and that international flights to and from the capital would be affected. Some flights from Christchurch and Queenstown were also canceled or delayed.

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