Weather bomb fails to go off

20:36, Mar 16 2014
Cyclone Lusi hits NZ
The storm whips up the sea at Mathesons Bay, Leigh, north of Auckland.
Cyclone Lusi hits NZ
Metservice's rain radar over Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula at 9.15am.
Cyclone Lusi hits NZ
A road closed by debris in Paihia.
Cyclone Lusi hits NZ
An early victim of the storm at Paihia.
Cyclone Lusi hits NZ
The Paihia waterfront.
Cyclone Lusi hits NZ
Tairua beach.
Cyclone Lusi hits NZ
Catching some air at Ruakaka beach.
Cyclone Lusi hits NZ
A boat washed away in Paihia.
Cyclone Lusi hits NZ
The wind, rain and high seas are washing debris over many roads.
Cyclone Lusi hits NZ
Raglan clouds over as the storm moves south.
Cyclone Lusi hits NZ
Surf's up in Mt Manganui.
Cyclone Lusi hits NZ
The storm sent trees and branches over roads in Auckland.
Cyclone Lusi hits NZ
The storm brought down the one tree this household's landlord didn't want cut down.
Cyclone Lusi hits NZ
A wet outlook at Hamilton Lake.
A windsurfer makes the most of gales off the eastern beaches.
Kohimarama Beach
Wind-blown sand hits walkers at Kohimarama Beach.
Paihia waterfront

While there is relief around the country that tropical storm Lusi did little damage this weekend, MetService said it did pack several punches.

Meteorologist Liz Walsh said it was inaccurate to say Lusi was lighter than forecast, with some exposed, mountainous areas being hard hit.

"I understand that Auckland didn't get quite as much as originally expected, and that Wellington was quite benign until last night - until the actual ex-cyclone travelled through central New Zealand," she said.

"But I think it's inaccurate to say it was lighter than forecast for some areas. We did have very high gusts in other areas that were not heavily populated."

Gusts in excess of 200kmh were recorded in some mountainous regions near Taihape, while last night and this morning the Rimutaka Hill Road between Wellington and the Wairarapa had wind gusts of 120kmh.

More than 200 millimetres of rain fell in about 18 hours in the Tararua Ranges in the lower North Island, and Nelson received 273mm of rain in 24 hours at one station in the Golden Bay ranges.

"It's great that [the storm] did not hit places that are populated with a lot of people," Walsh said.

"But it's inaccurate to say Lusi was less than expected. Maybe in some areas, but in others we had some very high gusts.

"The warnings were verified."

Torrential rain affected Nelson, Marlborough and parts of Wellington as the storm crossed last night, while in contrast Westland remained sunny and calm.

The sky in Wellington was expected to clear today but a front was moving up the South Island and should make for a "normal Wellington windy day" today, Walsh said.

Water-logged Christchurch residents had prepared for flooding with sandbags, but emergency services said there were no major issues as a result of yesterday's 30mm rainfall.

Just over the hill, Banks Peninsula suffered power cuts from 6.30am.

Owing to the storm's tropical air, weekend temperatures were unusually high at the weekend. Paraparaumu, north of Wellington, reached 30 degrees Celsius.

"It really did feel like Fiji," Walsh said.

Most of the country could expect warm temperatures to continue today as conditions eased.


The Dominion Post