UPDATE 3.53pm: Power outages have spread across the region as Cyclone Lusi bears down on the Bay of Plenty.
Current power outages are affecting people in:
Waito Road, Welcome Bay
Across town, a boat has slipped from its mooring and washed ashore near 1st Ave. Police and the harbourmaster are working to return it.
SATURDAY UPDATE: Severe weather warnings are in place for the Bay of Plenty as Cyclone Lusi makes its way down the country.
The storm has already caused havoc in Northland, bringing down power lines and trees, with 2219 customers without power in Auckland.
Bay of Plenty residents should continue to prepare as it approaches with widespread rain and easterly gales forecast.
The heaviest rain today is forecast about Coromandel Peninsula and western Bay of Plenty, where 150 to 200mm is expected.
Residents in low lying areas should also be aware of an increased chance of flooding around high tide at 7.42pm today and 8.47am Sunday.
The cyclone is lying just north of New Zealand and is expected to hit Auckland about midnight, moving down the country and hitting the Bay of Plenty overnight or in the morning and reaching the South Island on Monday.
Easterly gales will accompany the heavy rain, with gusts of 130km/h west of the
Kaimai Range. These gales are expected to gradually ease from this evening.
Click here for an animated wind map tracking the cyclone.
UPDATE 2.55pm: Power is now out in some places in Hairini and Ohauiti, adding to the list of outages across Oropi, Katikati and Omanawa as well as reports of power outages as far south as Otorohanga as a result of Cyclone Lusi.
UPDATE 1.50pm: Power is now out across Oropi, adding to the list of outages across Katikati and Omanawa as well as reports of power outages as far south as Otorohanga as a result of Cyclone Lusi.
UPDATE 1.26pm: Tauranga City Council and Western Bay of Plenty District Council incident management teams are continuing to monitor the situation with no reports of flooding or serious damage in Tauranga at this stage.
Severe weather is predicted to continue through until Sunday.
All roads remain open at this stage but Council advise extreme caution when travelling.
Tauranga City residents should phone the Council on 07-577 7000 if you think there is potential for flooding or tree damage in your street. All calls are logged and are sent to contractors to action as soon as possible where needed.
UPDATE 1.22pm: Power is out across Katikati and Omanawa as well as reports of power outages as far south as Otorohanga as a result of Cyclone Lusi.
People living in coastal areas such as Papamoa and Te Puna are saying winds are picking up and rain is gaining momentum.
The full force of the cyclone is yet to reach the Bay of Plenty so residents are advised to keep up-to-date with information.
The Bay of Plenty Civil Defence Emergency Management Group warns people to keep up to date on information in the lead up to Cyclone Lusi hitting the region this weekend.
Regional manager Clinton Naude said Civil Defence staff were ready to respond and were tracking the path of the cyclone closely.
Tauranga City Mayor Stuart Crosby has announced the city is prepared for Cyclone Lusi.
Tauranga City Council has activated and completed a storm response protocol ahead of the major weather event predicted to hit the Bay tonight.
Concerns about the city's capabilities to handle the heavy weather event have already been raised on the Bay of Plenty Times' Facebook page.
Several Bay of Plenty events scheduled for this weekend such as an annual toy run, speedway and disabled surfing Have a Go day have been cancelled. Click here for an up to date list of events and their changes.