Cyclone Lusi lashing northern NZ

LIAM HYSLOP AND SHABNAM DASTGHEIB
Last updated 16:45 15/03/2014
Mark Hockley/Facebook

Cyclone Lusi started moving over the Bay of Islands Friday overnight.

Paihia
Paihia waterfront

Storm moves over northern NZ

Takapuna Beach storm scene

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Emergency services have been busy on callouts in the country's north as Cyclone Lusi starts its journey across New Zealand.


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POLICE 'PRETTY HAPPY' NO-ONE AT SEA

Police say they're "pretty happy" no-one has been lost at sea after a report an 11-year-old boy was swept out from Takapuna Beach on Auckland's North Shore.

Police said at 1.54pm they were notified the boy was swept out from a boat ramp. 

The member of the public who rang through the emergency said they were doing so at the request of the boy's father. 

Police and the Westpac rescue helicopter immediately started a search. Nothing was found and it was later understood to be a misunderstanding.

FIRE SERVICE KEPT BUSY

The Fire Service has responded to about 40 incidents in the northern region, Auckland Council Civil Defence said.

Most were in Northland but calls were coming in from the Mahurangi and Rodney areas.

There have been more than 2000 power outages, as well as landslips, rockfalls, trees down and flooding around the region. There were reports of roads being flooded near Auckland Airport and several boats broke their moorings in the city's habour.

The largest recorded wind gust in the Auckland area was registered at 122kmh on Channel Island in the Hauraki Gulf.

Northern Auckland was worst hit by rain with 40mm falling today as of 11am.

Rainfall may exceed predictions and north of Orewa may see an additional 50 to 70mm today, with lesser amounts for the rest of the region. Winds are still expected to increase in strength and peak this afternoon.

Auckland Council Civil Defence controller Clive Manley said people need to be very careful, especially later this afternoon and into the evening on or near east coast beaches in Rodney and the North Shore.

"We are expecting bad sea conditions which may cause erosion of beaches and nearby low-lying areas.

"People should stay out of the water and off those beaches for the rest of today."

Flooding in Northland near Paihia has closed a section of SH11 and a detour put in place.

The Waikato Civil Defence public information manager Steven Ward said there have been few significant incidents in Waikato.

There were power outages north of Coromandel township this morning and a few trees had to be cleared from roads, he said.

'NASTY' WEATHER TO COME

MetService meteorologist Dan Corbett said parts of Northland had received 40 to 60 millimetres of rain overnight, with winds gusting up to 120kmh in Cape Reinga but there was still more to come.

"If this is like a football match, we're not quite to halftime in Northern areas." Northland could expect a further 40mm to 60mm before the rain starts to ease about 8pm, MetService said.

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Latest updates: Metservice rain radar

Corbett described the storm as a weather octopus, with layers of rain bands sweeping down the country.

"Think of it almost like an octopus flailing its legs.

"The first band of rain is down to Waikato, extending to Gisborne ranges. The second band of heavy persistent rain is now coming through Auckland and then the whole thing is spreading south."

The centre of Cyclone Lusi continued to weaken but that would not mean the weather would be any less severe than predicted, Corbett said.

"We still call it Cyclone Lusi but the winds have eased down to no more than 100kmh [in the centre] but because it is such a wide windfield we don't just focus on the centre

"We've got this big wide swathe of potentially damaging winds and rain and that is what's spreading down the country now," he said.

"It's still going to be some nasty weather in the next 24 to 48 hours."

WEEKEND OF WEATHER

MetService has increased rainfall predictions for some areas and extended severe weather warnings to include South Canterbury and North Otago.

Heavy rain warnings remain in place for much of the northern and eastern parts of the North Island and extend to the South Island to include Nelson, Marlborough, much of Canterbury and North Otago.

Strong wind warnings gusting to 120kmh would continue for most of the day for Northland, Auckland and parts of Waikato before hitting Wairarapa, Wellington and Marlborough tonight.

MetService said the heaviest rain would hit the Coromandel Peninsula and western Bay of Plenty from tonight.

Warnings were also in place for the eastern hills of Northland, the ranges of eastern Bay of Plenty and Gisborne, as well as the ranges of Hawke's Bay.

For the upper South Island, Marlborough and Nelson look set to receive the most intense rainfall, with 150 to 200mm possible in the ranges of northwest Nelson and 120 to 150mm about the ranges of Marlborough.

Corbett said Nelson could also be in for in excess of 150mm by the time the rain and wind passed on Monday.

Lusi was expected to cross the South Island during Sunday, then move away to the east.

- Fairfax Media

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