How will Cyclone Lusi affect Manawatu?

APPROACHING STORM: Cyclone Lusi at 6.32am March 13 - moving toward New Zealand.
APPROACHING STORM: Cyclone Lusi at 6.32am March 13 - moving toward New Zealand.

Manawatu will get off lightly from the arrival in New Zealand this weekend of Cyclone Lusi, but gale force winds and heavy rain are still predicted for this weekend.

Metservice issued a severe weather watch for the weekend with heavy rain expected from Northland down to Taihape, Taumarunui and Gisborne as Cyclone Lusi arrives after cutting a deadly path through the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

Meteorologist John Law said the cyclone, which could be downgraded to a storm before it reaches New Zealand, would work its way down the country on Saturday.

''The latest forecast has rain develop Saturday evening, winds strengthen as well. They'll be gale force Saturday into Sunday.''

The worst of the weather was expected to hit Manawatu overnight on Saturday, Mr Law said. However the forecast was being monitored and the weather watch for the top half of the North Island would be updated today.

''It's a forecast that's evolving,'' Mr Law said. ''It all depends on where this area of low pressure moves as to whose going to bear the brunt of these strong winds and rain fall.''

Also watching the weather forecast were organisers of the free summer concert in The Square on Sunday, which is headlined by Benny Tipene and the Black Seeds.

Destination Manawatu events coordinator Shelly Deegan said a call would be made tomorrow morning on whether the event would be moved indoors to the Regent on Broadway. That decision would now be made on Saturday.

The National Disaster Management Office in Vanuatu reported  three people had died from the effects of Cyclone Lusi earlier this week. Two people were hit by falling branches and a third drowned in rough seas.

Manawatu Standard