Cyclone Lusi: Heavy rain warning

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Jo Knight took this photo of the Paihia waterfront close to high tide.
Jo Knight took this photo of the Paihia waterfront close to high tide.

Strong winds - rather than heavy rain - appear to be causing Northlanders the bigger headaches as the remains of Tropical Cyclone Lusi tracks south.

MetService forecasters this morning issued a new strong wind warning for Northland, with easterly gales expected to gust up to 120kph in exposed places, but say these should gradually ease in the region tonight.

They have also issued a new heavy rain warning for Northland, forecasting a further 40 to 60mm rain in the 12 hours from 8am to 8pm today, with peak intensities of 10-20mm per hour. While it will be heavy at times, they're predicting it too will gradually ease this evening.

Graeme MacDonald, spokesman for the Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Group, said while the strong winds are having an impact on the region, it has not been seriously affected to date.

"Our local power companies, Northpower and Top Energy have been dealing with small outages that have affected relatively small numbers of consumers and the wind has caused some minor damage in places, largely trees down across roads."

Mr MacDonald said authorities had some concerns about storm surges, especially in Paihia where easterly swells had today blown across the road and flooded at least one basement. Debris was also blocking State Highway 11 through the Paihia waterfront.

He said maximum wind speeds recorded at 7am today were Cape Reinga 120kph,Purerua 83 kph, Whangarei 79kph and Kaikohe 72kph but as of the same time, rain associated with Lusi had not caused any issues, again in line with local expectations given the amounts that had been forecast.

Northland Regional Council figures in the 18 hours to 7am today showed the Puhipuhi area near Whangarei had received the most rain, but at 68mm, while reasonable, that was not an ususual amount of rain for the region.

Over the 18-hour same period, the wider Kaeo area had received 47-52mm, Cape Reinga 42mm, Kaikohe 39mm, Kerikeri 32mm, the wider Whangarei area 30-40mm and Dargaville just 11mm.

Mr MacDonald said officials will be keeping a close eye on the situation as the low moves across the region, however, given the latest forecast and Lusi's predicted path, he expected its impacts would be causing bigger issues for other regions from later today.

"In the meantime, we're urging Northlanders to continue to keep up to date with the latest weather forecasts and take the usual sensible precautions, including making sure boats and any other items that could be affected by the strong winds are properly secured."

Mr MacDonald said both locals and regular visitors to our region are familiar with the exposed places likely to be affected by wind, as well as those that regularly flood and/or slip during heavy rain events.

- Northern Advocate

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