Napier-Taupo road closed and power out in Bay

By Doug Laing doug.laing@hbtoday.co.nz

3 comments
WHITE: Snow has closed the Napier-Taupo road. PHOTO/PAUL TAYLOR.
WHITE: Snow has closed the Napier-Taupo road. PHOTO/PAUL TAYLOR.

Wild weather and snow on the Napier-Taupo roAd has closed the road and also caused another power outage to Hawke's Bay.

Weatherwatch reported that a low pressure system currently centred currently over the upper North Island is deepening and fueling a very wet easterly flow into Hawke's Bay and central eastern parts of the North Island.

At the same time the Antarctic blast is heading north and into it - creating an especially heavy area of snow. In New Zealand our biggest snow storms often occur when polar air hits warm, wetter air over parts of the country just like this.

This means Hawke's Bay is exposed to very heavy rain yesterday - while at higher elevations it will turn to very heavy snow.

Earlier the weather bomb forecast to bring snow and heavy rain to Hawke's Bay during the weekend wreaked havoc overnight with a power outage affecting the region.

The wild weather this morning also meant that most sport, including all Napier-Hastings netball and dozens of children's rugby, hockey and soccer matches, were cancelled.

This morning Unison Networks advised of a second region-wide power outage following a Transpower fault which supplies Hawke's Bay.

Unison Networks' Relationship Manager, Danny Gough, said Transpower suspects the outage is caused by similar reasons as the outage that hit this morning - snow loading damage between Taupo and Hawke's Bay.

"The second outage hit our region just after 10am this morning. Progressive restoration is now underway and our team is working alongside Transpower to get power restored as soon as possible in challenging conditions."

Mr Gough said the Hawke's Bay region was fed from Transpower's Wairakei GXP, where the fault occurred.

He also said customers should prepare for continued outages as this wild weather was set to continue for the weekend.

"Our regions are being battered by severe weather, so customers should ensure they are prepared for outages across the network.

"Our crews will continue working hard to restore any power outages that occur over the weekend but, in weather like this, it is imperative we make sure it is safe for our team to carry out repairs."

Earlier an outage hit the region just before 3am this morning, and the Unison team worked with Transpower as they progressively restored power. Everyone was back on by about 5.30am.


Meanwhile yesterday MetService was forecasting snow initially to as low as 400m altitude overnight, but possibly to as low as 200m today, which was likely to cause disruption on the Napier-Taihape and Napier-Taupo roads, and possibly the Napier-Wairoa road.

The snow was forecast in a severe weather warning from MetService. Temperatures in Napier and Hastings struggled to get to a high of 10C by early yesterday afternoon.

Another sign was the movement of contractors' vehicles north of Napier to be used to keep roads open, if necessary.

MetService said the heaviest snow was expected inland Hawke's Bay, from 9 last night to tomorrow morning, and the forecast also included an expectation of up to 200mm of rain.

Hawke's Bay Netball operations manager Tina Arlidge said secondary and primary games had been called off but it had been hoped to leave a decision on club matches until this morning.

An early and unexpected casualty was the cancellation of last night's 5th/6th playoff matches between Central Sports Vet Services HB and Havelock North Jazz Apples Kauri in the premier club Super 6 netball playoffs, at Pettigrew-Green Arena, because of water leaking from above the court. The semifinals went ahead.

Rugby officials late yesterday cancelled all junior grades in Napier, Hastings and Wairoa today, although secondary schools rugby was still on, as were the Premier finals in Napier and Division 3 final in Raupunga. Central Football yesterday cancelled all junior grades games but stated on their website that all senior games were still on schedule.

Hawke's Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group controller Ian Macdonald said the most significant impact was expected in Northern Hawke's Bay.

The rain was likely to lead to high river levels in smaller streams, but the Wairoa River was expected to cope. There could be some surface flooding in some areas, he said.

Emergency managers and Hawke's Bay Regional Council and Wairoa District Council staff were keeping a close eye on the weather and met yesterday afternoon to assess the situation.

Farmers were being encouraged to consider moving stock from low lying areas, while there were also worries for newborn lambs and calves.

"People travelling over the weekend should keep up to date with the latest forecasts and be prepared for the weather conditions by ensuring they have warm clothing and spare food and water with them," Mr MacDonald said.

For more information on getting ready to get through a civil defence emergency visit www.hbemergency.govt.nz or visit Hawke's Bay Emergency on Facebook or Twitter.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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