Heavy rain may spur Easter rethink

TRACEY CHATTERTON
Last updated 05:00 05/04/2012

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Gisborne is feeling the full force of mother nature as heavy rain closed roads, shut three schools and made driving difficult.

Gisborne civil defence was monitoring the weather, with another 100mm of rain expected to fall, particularly south of Tolaga Bay through to the Wharerata Range, by this morning.

Civil defence controller Jon Davies was keeping a close eye on river levels. Waimata River in Gisborne had reached seven metres by yesterday morning – 8m is the trigger for issuing warnings.

Constant rain kept Hawke's Bay residents inside yesterday but it was not enough to alarm authorities. But civil defence emergency management group controller Ian Macdonald said people might want to rethink their Easter Weekend plans.

"We don't recommend camping or caravaning this weekend, particularly around waterways. Everything is becoming super-saturated while this slow-moving low pressure weather system remains."

He advised motorists to take care on State Highway 5 from Napier to Taupo, SH2 from Napier to Wairoa at Devil's Elbow, and to check for closures on local roads in Wairoa.

Some roads around Gisborne and Wairoa had four-wheel-drive access only, Mr Davies said. A temporary diversion through Waioeka Gorge remained open but New Zealand Transport Agency warned drivers to be prepared for its possible closure.

Bay of Plenty state highway manager Brett Gliddon said drivers should continue to use the alternative routes of SH35 around East Cape or SH5 through Taupo.

"Although the temporary road is open at present to traffic. We are recommending to drivers that, if they want to have some certainty around their Easter holiday travel plans, they continue to use the alternative routes."

Mr Macdonald said large waves in Hawke Bay were not expected to pose a significant threat to low-lying communities, but the swell would continue through the weekend and coastal water would stay cloudy for several days.

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- The Dominion Post

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