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Relief as Luci heads south

Last updated 09:42 15/03/2014

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Whangarei Leader

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Civil Defence officials in Northland say it appears the worst of the effects of ex Tropical Cyclone Lusi may be over shortly – for their region at least – as the bad weather now bears down on other parts of New Zealand.


Graeme MacDonald, spokesman for the Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Group, says the region’s weather for much of the day today had again unfolded as per MetService forecasts, with winds and storm surges causing most of the issues.

 Gale force winds had cut power causing a number of outages across the region, but these were being repaired by lines companies Northpower and Top Energy. 

 Similarly, while there had been a lot of rain in places – with 91mm recorded at Puhipuhi near Whangarei over the 27 hours to 4pm – officials had no reports of flooding, with catchments, rivers and streams all apparently coping.

 However, storm surges at Paihia had damaged a restaurant on the town’s wharf and the seawall that adjoins Williams Rd. 

 “A temporary repair to the seawall was underway this evening and the roadway will be closed from 6pm prior to high tide at 8pm today.  Firefighters have also been helping business and homeowners to sandbag buildings to prevent seawater inundation in and around the waterfront on Williams Rd.”

 Mr MacDonald said all other roads in the Far North were reportedly open, although – in common with the Whangarei district – there had been a number of incidents where trees had been blown across roads.

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 Northland’s Regional Harbourmaster had also reported several boats had come ashore at Houhora, Mangonui and Paihia and some moorings had dragged at Houhora.

 Further south, Marsden Point had been closed to all shipping and at Mangawhai reports had been received of damage to a building with roofing iron lifted.

 He says the maximum wind speed recorded by 4pm today had been 139kph at Cape Reinga, while Northland Regional Council figures for the 27 hours to 4pm showed the wider Kaeo area had received about 80mm, Cape Reinga 63.6mm, Kaikohe 79.8mm, Kerikeri 46mm, the wider Whangarei area 45-90mm and Dargaville 17mm.

 Mr MacDonald says officials will continue to keep a close eye on the situation as the low moves across the region, however, given the latest forecast and Lusi’s predicted path, he expected its impacts would be causing bigger issues for other regions from this evening.

 “In the meantime, we’re urging Northlanders to continue to keep up to date with the latest weather forecasts and take the usual sensible precautions, including making sure boats and any other items that could be affected by the strong winds are properly secured.”

 Mr MacDonald says overall though, it appears Northland had escaped from the aftermath of Lusi fairly lightly.

 “Our thoughts are now with those further south, who it appears will face more challenging weather as a result of this weather system than we did in Northland.”

Earlier story:

Strong winds – rather than heavy rain – appear to be causing Northlanders the bigger headaches as the remains of Tropical Cyclone Lusi track south, civil defence officials say.

MetService forecasters this morning issued a new strong wind warning for Northland, with easterly gales expected to gust up to 120kmh in exposed places, but say these should gradually ease in the region tonight.

 They have also issued a new heavy rain warning for Northland, forecasting a further 40 to 60mm rain in the 12 hours from 8am to 8pm today, with peak intensities of 10-20mm per hour.  While it will be heavy at times, they’re predicting it too will gradually ease this evening.

 Graeme MacDonald, spokesman for the Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management Group, says while the strong winds are having an impact on the region, it has not been seriously affected to date.

 “Our local power companies, Northpower and Top Energy have been dealing with small outages that have affected relatively small numbers of consumers and the wind has caused some minor damage in places, largely trees down across roads.”

 Mr MacDonald says authorities have some concerns about storm surges, especially in Paihia where easterly swells had today blown across the road and flooded at least one basement.  Debris was also blocking State Highway 11 through the Paihia waterfront.

 He says maximum wind speeds recorded at 7am today were Cape Reinga 120kmh,Purerua 83 kmh, Whangarei 79kmh and Kaikohe 72kmh but as of the same time, rain associated with Lusi had not caused any issues, again in line with local expectations given the amounts that had been forecast.

Northland Regional Council figures in the 18 hours to 7am today showed the Puhipuhi area near Whangarei had received the most rain, but at 68mm, while reasonable, that was not an ususual amount of rain for the region.

 Over the 18-hour same period, the wider Kaeo area had received 47-52mm, Cape Reinga 42mm, Kaikohe 39mm, Kerikeri 32mm, the wider Whangarei area 30-40mm and Dargaville just 11mm.

 Mr MacDonald says officials will be keeping a close eye on the situation as the low moves across the region, however, given the latest forecast and Lusi’s predicted path, he expected its impacts would be causing bigger issues for other regions from later today.

“In the meantime, we’re urging Northlanders to continue to keep up to date with the latest weather forecasts and take the usual sensible precautions, including making sure boats and any other items that could be affected by the strong winds are properly secured.”

Mr MacDonald says both locals and regular visitors to our region are familiar with the exposed places likely to be affected by wind, as well as those that regularly flood and/or slip during heavy rain events.

- Whangarei Leader

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