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Christchurch braces for cyclone's blast

NICOLE MATHEWSON AND SARAH-JANE O'CONNOR
Last updated 05:00 15/03/2014

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Weather: Another fine day in Chch Weather: Clear skies expected Cows on motorway slow traffic Weather: Showers expected later today Christchurch to escape heavy rain and gales Christchurch set to avoid regional downpour Fine skies ahead of drizzle Weekend highs of 20C ahead Strong winds ease off for fine day 150kmh gusts on the way for Canterbury

Cantabrians can expect to see the effects of Tropical Cyclone Lusi, but forecasters believe it will pass over the city quickly.

Blue Skies weather forecaster Tony Trewinnard said Christchurch could expect three or four hours of intense rain tomorrow afternoon, which could prove too much for the stormwater systems to handle.

He expected the city would get 30 to 40 millimetres of rain and be hit by strong winds.

The rain's intensity would be "tropical" compared to average rainfall, Trewinnard said.

Metservice forecaster John Law said tomorrow would prove the "wettest" day for Christchurch and Canterbury, while easterly winds could reach gale strength over Banks Peninsula and other exposed parts of the region.

The weather today was not looking "too bad", but drizzle would begin falling in the Canterbury foothills late this afternoon, moving closer to Christchurch overnight.

"[Lusi's] still looking like it will cause significant impact. I think it's very sensible, everywhere in New Zealand, to keep an eye on the forecast," he said.

The Christchurch City Council said it was preparing for a "worst-case scenario".

Staff had checked stormwater drains and stopbanks, and were distributing 22,000 sandbags around the city for residents to use.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel said sandbags were effective in specific areas, such as garage doors or shopfronts, but would not stop water from coming up through floorboards. Bags would be available from noon today and would not need to be returned.

Four welfare centres around the city would be available if required.

Orion chief executive Rob Jamieson said lines workers were prepared in case of a big event, such as a storm or an earthquake.

About 7000 homes in parts of Banks Peninsula and Christchurch lost power during last week's storm.

Jamieson reminded residents to call an electrician if their property did flood and to call Orion immediately if they came across any damaged powerlines.

The NZ Transport Agency warned motorists to drive to the conditions, as wind and rain could make driving difficult.

Journey manager Lee Wright said drivers should increase following distances during wet weather, and be vigilant for slips and debris on the road.

Federated Farmers spokeswoman Katie Milne said farmers should be preparing for adverse weather, but there was the hope the West Coast areas of the upper North Island would receive much-needed rain.

FLOOD PREVENTION

Sandbags will be available at these locations by noon today:

Corner Speight St/Aylesford St Hills Rd/Shirley Rd shops – in the carpark Edward Ave, St Albans Barrington St Ferry Rd at Woolston Park Corner Union St/Seaview Tce – Owles Tce/Seaview Tce, New Brighton Corner Martindales Rd/Truscotts Rd, Heathcote Valley Corner Marriner St/Esplanade, Sumner Burwood Park --------------------

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- The Press

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