Batten down: 120km/h howler predicted

By PATRICK O'SULLIVAN

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Hawke's Bay residents are bracing today for 120km/h winds, heavy rain, big seas and power cuts.

The MetService and Civil Defence have urged people to secure loose objects as a deep low travels across the North Island bringing severe gales from the northwest, swinging to the southwest this afternoon.

Heavy rain is expected to fall for much of the day, easing tonight.

Power lines company Unison advised people to prepare for power failures.

Unison Group CEO Ken Sutherland said the company did not expect any major issues but crews were on high alert to minimise the impact of any outages. He advised people to call 0800 286 476 immediately if electricity failed.

Hastings District Council Emergency Management Officer Warren Meldrum said coastal areas should be on alert with swells up to 6m expected well off the coast.

"It is a matter of waiting to see how the weather develops," he said.

"There is a swell warning in effect but we don't know how big it is going to be, depending on how low the pressure drops and the wind.

"The hydrologist at the Hawke's Bay Regional Council said it shouldn't cause us any problems, but you never know."

Coastguard Hawke's Bay president Dick Hilton said he hoped no one would be silly enough to go out in what he called a significant weather event.

"There are serious seas out there," he said.

Winds were predicted to gust to 70 knots. "At 15 knots you start getting white caps so conditions will be severe."

Dozens of events were cancelled, postponed or venues changed after yesterday's severe weather warning.

One of the weekend's biggest events, Relay for Life, has moved to the Hawke's Bay Regional Sports Park, and The CJ Pask Winery Great Long Lunch to the Rodney Green Centennial Events Centre in Latham St, Napier.

Mahia Boating and Fishing Club's surfcasting event is postponed as is Fish and Game's kids fishing day.

While the decision to halve the Taupo Ironman New Zealand triathlon distance and to postpone it until tomorrow was made yesterday, Hawke's Bay Racing general manager Jason Fleming said any decision on today's race meeting would not be made until this morning.

It would only be cancelled if conditions were "life-threatening", he said.

"Until the weather hits it's a wait-and-see situation.

"We have all the precautions in place and are ready to face anything that is thrown at us."

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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