Rain stirs memories of destructive holiday

By Morgan Tait

The heavy rain soaking Hawke's Bay, accompanied by gale force winds, has brought back memories of last Easter's devastation.

With heavy rainfall expected to continue until at least this afternoon Federated Farmers President Bruce Wills said the wet weather was a reminder of last Easter when the region was hammered by an extreme weather system that wreaked havoc from Morere to Porangahau, destroying homes, land and livelihoods up and down the East Coast.

"We have sent out media advisories to our northern Hawke's Bay and Gisborne members because this rain is getting quite serious," Mr Wills said. "The countryside is very wet, there are a number of slips starting to take place and flooding in low-lying areas, but the concerning thing is there is still several more days of heavy rain predicted."

However, Mr Wills said farmers would be prepared for the deluge and had moved stock to higher ground.

"You can't do much about slips and low-lying damage, when it gets this way it's got a mind of its own and it's just a matter of battening down the hatches, keeping your fingers crossed and hoping for the best," he said.

MetService meteorologist Daniel Corbett said last night that rain was expected to continue until Sunday.

"Over the next day or so there could still be very heavy and persistent rain at times," he said. "It is slowly going to get better later on Thursday and into Friday and as we go to the weekend we will still see the risk for wet weather, but as we get towards Saturday and Sunday it will quiet down, and improve on Monday."

In the 16 hours from 8pm yesterday until midday today, a further 60mm to 100mm of rain was expected in the hills and ranges north of Napier, with up to 50mm elsewhere. Falls were expected to reach about 10mm per hour about the ranges.

Although the rain should ease this afternoon, it was possible that a further 50 to 70mm could fall in the hills and ranges north of Napier late today and early tomorrow.

Mr Corbett said the region was sandwiched between a low weather system and a high, the perfect ingredients for powerful winds.

"Gales will continue because there is a low up to the north and a high at the south and they squeeze together almost like an accordion being closed.

"That squeeze, called the tightening of isobars, will be strong and bring severe gales. Those winds will slowly ease as we go into Friday and the weekend."

People were advised to be vigilant and keep up to date with forecasts.

The Hawke's Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group met with Hawke's Bay Regional Council staff yesterday to discuss the weather situation.

The group was going to monitor forecasts and keep in contact with local councils and national agencies throughout the weekend.

Controller Ian Macdonald suggested people factor the weather into their weekend plans.

"We don't recommend camping or caravaning this weekend particularly around waterways and only the hardiest of hunters will be heading out there," he said. "Our recommendation for travellers is to check that roads are open, allow plenty of time and watch for slips on the region's roads."

Police and AA were advising motorists to reduce their speed and increase the travelling distance between vehicles.

Holiday-goers can keep up to date by checking the NZTA and AA Roadwatch website, and MetService forecasts.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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