Lusi's impact lighter than forecast

TIM DONOGHUE
Last updated 20:24 16/03/2014
Tom Werton
DAVID WHITE/Fairfax NZ
RIDERS ON THE STORM: Tom Werton makes the most of the 100kmh winds on Orewa Beach, Auckland on Saturday.
Lusi
Metservice / NOAA
Lusi swirls around New Zealand in satellite image taken this morning.

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The remnants of Cyclone Lusi battered Wellington and Wairarapa with predicted galeforce winds of up to 130kp/h tonight.

The overnight Wellington regional experience appeared to be similar to the rest of the country over the weekend, with Lusi’s impact not being as hard-hitting as predicted by forecasters.

MetService forecasters said the predicted gales over Wellington, the Wairarapa and the top of the South Island were expected to decrease considerably by daybreak tomorrow morning.

"The general situation is expected to improve from Monday morning onwards," a duty forecaster said.

As of 8pm, Wellington Airport remained fully operational with planes arriving and departing according to timetable.

Cook Strait ferry services also remained on schedule while the northwesterly winds rose. InterIslander ferries Kaitaki and Arahura and the two Bluebridge ferries, the Straitsman and Santa Regina were on scheduled to keep to their normal timetables.

InterIslander’s general manager Thomas Davis said the weather had not affected his company’s sailing schedule and neither was he expecting any weather-related problems overnight.    

Meanwhile the Northland and Auckland regions were spared a direct hit on Friday and Saturday night.

Paihia in Northland was particularly badly hit with debris and rocks  thrown ashore by heavy seas causing the closure of part of State Highway 11.

The storm surge at the Paihia wharf  damaged a restaurant on the wharf and the sea wall.

Maximum recorded wind gusts in the northern region were at Channel Island (122 km/h) and Whangaparaoa Peninsula 113km/h.

In Nelson rocks fell on Rocks Road, the road around the Nelson foreshore but residents reported there was no sign of flooding throughout the city. 

Tonight rain fell in the Tararua Ranges, Nelson, Marlborough, Buller, South Canterbury, North Otago and Tararua ranges. 

Tasman District Council spokesman for the emergency management team Chris Choat said mid-afternoon today there was "a little surface flooding, but nothing unexpected".

"To be honest, I don’t think we’re getting the ferocity other places have experienced."

The popular WOMAD music festival in New Plymouth was hit by strong winds and heavy rain over the weekend but the show went on regardless, despite some weather damage to tents.

In Christchurch, more than 20,000 sandbags were placed around flood-prone properties in preparation for heavy rain. However, the water-logged city appeared to avoid the worst of the rain as Lusi tracked further west.

On Saturday the weather caused power outages for more than 7000 customers in Auckland and another 3000 in Whangarei and the Far North.

120 km/h gales howled over Cape Reinga on Saturday while seven metre swells battered the upper North Island’s eastern coast at places like Marsden Point, just south of Whangarei on Saturday afternoon. 

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Despite a civil defence warning to stay away from Auckland beaches on Saturday a number of opportunistic kite surfers made the best of the high waves and winds by heading to the beaches. 

The Fire Service had responded to over 100 incidents in the northern region on Saturday. 

Maximum recorded wind gusts in the northern region were at Channel Island (122 km/h) and Whangaparaoa Peninsula 113km/h.

- The Dominion Post

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