Nail everything down for Lusi

ELTON SMALLMAN
Last updated 13:33 14/03/2014
STORM COMING: Cloud preceding Tropical Cyclone Lusi covers the top of the North Island in this MetService satellite image.
MetService

STORM COMING: Cloud preceding Tropical Cyclone Lusi covers the top of the North Island in this MetService satellite image.

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Heavy rain and strong wind warnings are in place for parts of the Waikato and Coromandel Peninsula as Cyclone Lusi gets closer to New Zealand.

Lusi has moved out of the tropics and is lying 800 kilometres north of Cape Reinga and will arrive on Saturday. The system has weakened to a category 2 tropical cyclone and has lost structure but was moving at about 35 kilometres per hour and will pass down the north western side of North Cape.

Despite it's weakening intensity Metservice media and communications meteorologist Dan Corbett said to expect severe weather.

''Even though Lusi has shown some signs of weakening, it is still a significant tropical system and one that still has the potential for severe weather.''

A heavy rain warning is in place for the Coromandel Peninsula and Bay of Plenty with up to 120mm of rain expected with peaks from Saturday morning to the afternoon.

Easterly winds will rise to gale force tonight and a strong wind warning has been issued for the Waikato to the Kaimai Ranges from 6am on Saturday to midnight. Easterly gales with severe gusts of 130 kilometres per hour should be expected for areas west of the Kaimais and mainly about the ridges.

''As this low passes by the far North, a period of heavy rain and easterly gales is likely from Northland to Gisborne,'' said Mr Corbett.

Large waves and storm surges may occur along eastern shores from Northland to the Bay of Plenty.

BE PREPARED

People are being told to tie down the barbecue table, clear the guttering and be vigilant on the roads.

Tropical Cyclone Lusi was upgraded to category 3 yesterday as it moved south of Fiji and New Caledonia overnight.

Satellite images showed the weather system was nearly the size of the North Island as it tracked toward New Zealand.

Metservice communications meteorologist John Law said the volatile system would weaken before it made landfall this weekend but still posed a risk to the region.

Average wind speeds for a Category 3 storm were "between 119kmh and 158kmh" but despite the reduced intensity, heavy rains and strong winds would lash the region.

"It's not expected to be at that strength when it reaches us but it will still be a storm that will cause problems," Mr Law said.

"The best thing to do is to keep an eye on the forecast over the next couple of days, particularly in the Kaimai [range]."

Civil Defence advised people to secure their homes and businesses and get ready for a wild weekend.

There was a risk of flash flooding, fallen trees, landslides and significant debris in rivers after the dry spell.

Garden furniture should be tied down, gutters cleared and drains unblocked. People have been told to be aware of debris from damaged trees.

Waikato arborists have been put on full alert for the weekend. Marc Doyle Treework owner Chris Corfe said it looked like it would be busy.

"It doesn't take a lot of wind to get a few calls of some decent branches down that's for sure," he said.

Trees with an "inclusion" - a particular way the branch meets the trunk - were high risk and obvious to the trained eye but difficult for the lay person to see.

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"It shouts out to us that there will be a failure," he said but most people waited too long to get them checked.

"People only realise their trees are dangerous when they are lying across their roof or swimming pool," he said.

Homeowners should check for broken, dead or discoloured branches and park cars away from trees during the storm, he said.

Waikato Tree Services supervisor Mike Hawker briefed his staff for the weekend and said the easterly blast would cause widespread damage.

"Trees are used to growing with the prevailing wind, which is a south-west in the Waikato, so with the wind coming from the east and of high strength, its going to cause a lot more damage.

"Because it's so dry the trees are real brittle at the moment as well so it's not looking good if it does arrive."

Raglan coastguard is on standby but president Wally Hawken said most boaties knew to be off the water and have their craft secure.

"They know - they know and they are aware."

Waikato civil defence emergency management group controller Lee Hazlewood said the key message was that people prepared for a storm and had adequate provisions to see them through.

"Make preparations at home such as securing all the garden furniture, if you're in the middle of construction, secure your work site as best as possible, there's often something we miss there, and prepare for possible power outages."

High winds were his main concern but he said all families should have an emergency kit and an agreed communications plan in case someone got caught out by the storm.

"For your family preparedness plan you should always have three days of supplies at hand."

Hamilton City Council's crisis manager David Robson said they were prepared to update information as it came to hand with advice for residents before Lusi struck.

"As with any storm, there is a problem of predictability and circumstances could change at the very last hour.

"The key message to the community is to continue to monitor the weather reports and avoid going outside."

CIVIL DEFENCE GUIDE

Develop a household emergency plan Get emergency survival items for your home and a portable kit

Prepare your property for high winds

Secure large, heavy objects and remove potential missiles

Make sure your roof is secure

Keep tarpaulins, boards and duct tape handy to repair windows

Farmers – keep livestock in paddocks safe from floodwaters, landslides and downed power lines

Source: Waikato Region Civil Defence Emergency Management Group

- Waikato Times

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