Manawatu events bracing for a Lusi lashing

01:30, Mar 14 2014

Manawatu could 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 tomorrow.

"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 tomorrow night or Sunday morning, 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 who's going to bear the brunt of these strong winds and rainfall." 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 was expected to be made this 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.

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