Bay coast in line for battering

By Sam Hurley

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A barrage of large swells is expected to batter Hawke's Bay's coastline today and tomorrow, leaving exposed areas at risk of more erosion.

Hawke's Bay Civil Defence emergency management group manager Ian Macdonald said the swell and approaching Antarctic storm may affect properties at Ocean Beach, Waimarama and the Clifton Motor Camp. Coastal erosion had claimed 45 sites at Clifton Beach in the past four years.

Forecasters are predicting the region to be hit by possible snow, sleet and heavy rain in the next two days as a southerly blast moves its way up the country.

"We have been advised that large swells are expected along the Hawke's Bay coastline over the next two days," said Mr Macdonald. "Swells are forecast to be around 4.5 metres but may rise to six to nine metres at times."

Hawke's Bay Civil Defence and the Hastings District Council released a warning to coastal residents yesterday advising them to monitor sea conditions and be prepared to self-evacuate if in danger.

The large sea swells were expected to begin from midday today and continue for 24 hours. Civil Defence said swells of that magnitude were unpredictable and extremely dangerous and advised people to avoid the beaches.

The MetService forecast for today said Napier would receive heavy rain and strong, cold southwesterlies, a high of 10C and overnight low of 4C. In Hastings the same conditions could be expected but with a high of just 9C and overnight low of 4C.

Tomorrow the high would rise to 11C in Napier and Hastings but bitter southwesterlies and icy rain would keep the air cool. Overnight lows were expected to fall to 3C and 4C respectively in the twin cities.

Dannevirke was forecast to record a high of just 7C and low of 3C today and the weekend would bring much the same with a high of 7C and low of 1C tomorrow. The chilly temperatures would be accompanied by heavy southwesterly rain.

The MetService 10-day forecast was projecting dry westerlies to arrive in the region on Monday, bringing sunny days and temperatures in the mid teens for most of the week.

WeatherWatch head weather analyst Phillip Duncan said the main concern with this system was heavy snow inland to low levels with bitterly cold wind chills produced by severe gales.

Mr Duncan said the storm was similar to the August 2011 storm, but being two months earlier meant the air was slightly warmer. That was making sea-level snow forecasts much harder to nail down: "If it was two degrees warmer or two degrees cooler it would be much easier to make the call. However, the storm is much more than just snow inland. Across Friday, severe winds will affect more of the North Island - especially southern areas. The south to southeast wind could reach severe gale near the lower North Island, with speeds over 120km/h."

Yesterday two flights were cancelled arriving and departing from Hawke's Bay Airport. Both flights were scratched because of high winds in the capital.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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