Storm to be as bad as Cyclone Lusi

By Peter de Graaf, Imran Ali

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Severe weather, similar to last month's battering of Marsden Rd in Paihia, is expected  tomorrow. Photo/File
Severe weather, similar to last month's battering of Marsden Rd in Paihia, is expected tomorrow. Photo/File

It's "batten down the hatches" time again for Northland as severe weather later today is expected to dump up to 100mm of rain and wind gusts of 100km/h in eastern parts of the region.

MetService has warned that the present weather system has all the hallmarks of the remnants of Cyclone Lusi which struck Northland slightly more than a month ago.

Two main weather systems, one laying to the west of New Zealand and the other moving across the Tasman Sea, will gather strength later tonight, with the worst to hit Northland tomorrow morning.

MetService said although the low moving across the Tasman Sea was the aftermath of Cyclone Ita (which swept through northern Queensland last week), its characteristics were different which was why it was described as a "sub-tropical low".

Weather forecaster Dan Corbett said rain would become persistent overnight today before north-easterly winds strengthened along Northland's eastern coast tomorrow morning.

Worst affected areas would be north of Kerikeri, Bay of Islands, Whangarei through to Auckland with motorists being warned to take care.

The storm's expected peak on Thursday morning would also coincide with a high tide about 9am.

"The weather should start improving in Northland after midday on Thursday," Mr Corbett said.

The New Zealand Fire Service northern region has a "standing army" to deal with emergencies and Far North area manager Allan Kerrisk said his crews were prepared.

However, it was unlikely that crews would be deployed from outside Northland, such as those sent during Cyclone Lusi.

A business owner in Paihia who was among the worst affected during Lusi is better prepared this time.

Sarah Greener is manager of 35 Degrees South, the waterfront restaurant in Paihia which was hammered by Cyclone Lusi.

Mrs Greener is keeping a wary eye on the weather and getting ready to use an emergency plan for the second time in just over a month.

Massive storm surges lifted planking from the brand-new deck and the force of the waves smashed out a window, flooding the restaurant.

Mrs Greener said the same plan that had served well during last month's cyclone would be applied, but with a few new measures learnt in the "practice run" with Lusi.

Northland Regional Council deputy harbour master Chidambaram Surendran has advised sea-goers to check the marine forecast before venturing out to sea and to keep a close eye on boat moorings.

Bill Hutchinson, of Far North Civil Defence, said he was keeping a close eye on the storm but so far the MetService had only issued a severe weather watch for Northland, not a warning.

- Northern Advocate

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