Brace for drenching from heavy rain

By Mike Barrington

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Hukerenui dairy farmer Alan Moscrip has close to 20ha underwater. Photo/John Stone
Hukerenui dairy farmer Alan Moscrip has close to 20ha underwater. Photo/John Stone

Flooding and slips are expected in Northland during heavy rain forecast to drench the region daily for most of the next week.

The MetService yesterday issued a severe weather warning for northern and eastern Northland, predicting the region may receive 100-150mm of persistent rain in the 36 hours to 8pm today.

And Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Group spokesman Graeme MacDonald yesterday warned rapidly rising rivers and streams could cause surface flooding with the downpours also increasing the possibility of slips.

He advised Northlanders and visitors to the region to keep up to date with the latest weather forecasts, be careful in areas prone to flooding and not to travel on the roads unless necessary.

Dry autumn weather ended at the weekend with patchy rain around the region.

Northland Regional Council hydrologist Dale Hansen said more than 50mm had fallen at Opouteke on the eastern side of the Tutamoe Ranges between noon on Sunday and 8am yesterday, with 60mm recorded in Kaikohe over the same period.

The downpour had raised the Mangakahia River to near the top of its banks early yesterday, but it was still far off flooding Mangakahia Rd at 8am yesterday.

Heavy rain in the Puhipuhi hills north of Whangarei on Sunday night also flooded areas near Hukerenui, with about 20ha of the Waiotu Block Rd property of dairy farmer Alan Moscrip underwater yesterday afternoon.

Mr Moscrip said his farm had a saucer-shaped depression that flooded every time water began backing up from the Hikurangi Swamp. It usually drained away from the farm with three or four days of dry weather, which wasn't expected to occur over the next week. Cows had been brought in to dry stands near the milking shed. "You would only see the tips of their [the cows'] ears if they were still out in the paddocks," Mr Moscrip said.

The southbound lane of State Highway 1 was blocked by a minor slip near the intersection with Artillery Rd on the southern side of the Brynderwyn Hills, south of Whangarei, about 8.30am yesterday, with contractors clearing the slip before lunch time.

But much of the rest of region escaped the heavy rain.

Mr Hansen said that in the 20 hours between noon Sunday and 8am yesterday Kaitaia and the Far North had 10-20mm, Kaeo 15-20mm, Dargaville 14mm and Whangarei 24mm.

MetService forecasters yesterday said that would change as a complex trough, with a series of lows moving south over the Tasman Sea, directed a moist northeast flow over northern and central parts of New Zealand, bringing prolonged rain to much of the North Island and northeastern parts of the South Island over the next few days.

Saturday might be dry in Whangarei, but rain was predicted daily in the city until next Wednesday, with daily temperatures around 18C expected to cool slightly to 15C degrees from Saturday and overnight temperatures dropping from 12C tonight to 8C next Wednesday.

- Northern Advocate

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