Lusi to bring slips, flooding, gales
MICHAEL DALY, LIAM HYSLOP AND NICOLE MATHEWSON
Cyclone Lusi has moved out of the tropics and is expected to pass just to the northwest of North Cape about noon tomorrow.
The MetService's latest prediction is for heavy rain in most North Island places and the upper South Island during the weekend, especially in places exposed to the east and northeast.
"This will be a significant adverse weather event," MetService said.
"The heavy rain is likely to cause slips and surface flooding, and the severe easterly gales could make driving hazardous, lift roofs and bring down trees and powerlines.
"People are strongly advised to exercise extreme caution."
MetService expects heavy swells, large wind-generated waves up to 6 metres high and storm surges along the northeast coastline.
In Northland the Civil Defence Emergency Management Group warned of the possibility of erosion and flooding in low-lying coastal areas. But spokesman Graeme MacDonald said the overall rainfall being forecast, and its intensity, were not out of the ordinary for the region.
Electricity lines company Vector warned its customers to be prepared for power outages. The company said it had put field crews on alert.
Heavy rain is expected in Northland from this evening, spreading south over the next 24 hours to the Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty, the Gisborne ranges, the ranges west of Motueka, and Marlborough, including the Kaikoura Ranges.
In Northland and Auckland easterly winds are expected to rise to gale strength tonight, with severe gusts up to 120kmh starting between midnight and dawn and lasting through to midnight tomorrow.
Easterly winds are also expected to rise to gale strength tonight in the Kaimai Range and Waikato near the Kaimais, with severe gusts up to 130kmh from 6am to midnight tomorrow, mainly about the ridges and areas just west of the Kaimais.
"Even though Lusi has shown some signs of weakening, it is still a significant tropical system," MetService communications meteorologist Dan Corbett said.
Auckland Civil Defence controller Clive Manley said at a press conference this afternoon that flooding, slips, road closures and power outages were expected in the city. All stakeholders were "working 24/7 from now".
The impact was likely to be most severe for coastal communities, particularly on the city's eastern beaches.
Manley said staff had been working with those areas to ensure people were ready for the extreme weather to hit.
"Plan for the worst, hope for the best," he said.
Richard Woods, Auckland Civil Defence manager for planning and intelligence, said the most dangerous times would be a couple of hours either side of tomorrow's high tides, at 7.30am and 8pm.
Easterly and northeasterly winds were expected to cause significant coastal erosion and whip up strong swells in the Hauraki Gulf.
MetService said some significant heavy rain was also likely in Auckland, particularly about the Hunua and Waitakere Ranges overnight and tomorrow, and in the Hawke's Bay ranges tomorrow.
Severe easterly gales could reach the Central Plateau and Nelson tomorrow, with gusty downslope winds in areas just west of the main ranges.
Northwesterly gales were possible in Wellington on Sunday afternoon and evening, as the remains of Lusi moved across the South Island.
HOPE FOR CHRISTCHURCH
For Christchurch residents worried their already saturated city could be in for another drenching, Corbett offered some hope, saying rainfall in Christchurch would be from the east and moderate.
Christchurch authorities had been advising residents who were still cleaning up after last week's flooding to remain on high alert.
Christchurch City Council yesterday said it was preparing for a "worst-case scenario".
Staff had been busy checking stormwater drains and stop banks, while a 22,000 sandbags will be filled and offered to high flood-risk neighbourhoods.
By midday tomorrow they would available at these points:
- Speight St-Aylesford St corner
- Hills Rd-Shirley Rd shops (car park)
- Barrington St
- Ferry Rd at Woolston Park
- corner Union St-Seaview Terrace - Owles Tce-Seaview Tce, New Brighton
- corner Martindales Rd-Truscotts Rd, Heathcote
- Burwood Park
Mayor Lianne Dalziel said sandbags were only effective in "isolated areas", such as protecting garages or commercial shop-fronts, or for diverting water running downhill.
Sandbags would not help residents who had water coming up from under their floorboards.
Council engineers estimated it would have taken about 500,000 sandbags to make even a small difference to the flooding issues experienced in the Flockton St area last week.
The council was liaising with the army and volunteer agencies to secure extra resources if they were needed, and all welfare and response agencies were expected to meet again today to update their plans.
People wanting specific advice, such as where to get sandbags, could phone the council's call centre on 03 941 8999 (or 0800 800 169 for Banks Peninsula residents).
- Fairfax Media