Wind, rain and a huge swell on west coast

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TAILOR MADE: Surfers making the most of Sunday's big swell at Te Kohanga.
TAILOR MADE: Surfers making the most of Sunday's big swell at Te Kohanga.

The storm that was predicted to strike Northland over the weekend caused plenty of minor problems for police and emergency services, but little serious damage.

As predicted, the west coast bore the brunt of the storm that saw high winds, thunder and lightning lash the region on Saturday evening and into Sunday. Kaitaia recorded the strongest wind gust on Saturday night at 94km/h, second only to Lyttelton's 100km/h. In Whangarei winds exceeded 70km/h.

The Kaitaia Fire Brigade responded to seven weather-related calls between 5pm and midnight on Saturday, one of them as guests for Peter and Dinny Dryburgh's farewell (page 3) were sitting down to their meal in the fire station engine bay, after a tree fell across SH1 at Pamapuria.

Low atmospheric pressure, combined with a high tide, wind and rain saw water cover a road at Tokatoka, south-east of Dargaville, while in the Far North power was cut to about 3500 people until Sunday morning.

Sunday morning's high tide at Ahipara did not encroach upon Foreshore Road, as has occurred in the past, but large rollers pounded ashore and into the embankment below the road, attracting sightseers and delighting the local surfing fraternity.

Rawene Hospital was reliant on its generator for a time, the Hokianga seeming to cop the worst of the weather with multiple trees coming down.

Kerikeri recorded the highest rainfall in the country on Saturday night (33mm), the Northland Age recording 18.7mm in Kaitaia in the 24 hours to 9am on Sunday. The previous 24 hours delivered 25.5mm, and the 24 hours to 9am yesterday another 8.4mm.

The Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management Group had issued a general warning on Friday, Shona Morgan saying winds could push waves to significant heights, especially on the west coast, causing an already big high tide to rise even further.

Past experience in Northland had been that that combination of conditions could cause inundation by the sea, and that was regarded as a possibility at all west coast harbours, particularly the Hokianga Harbour, on Saturday evening.

Ms Morgan says low-lying foreshore and estuary areas should be avoided around the high tide, and vehicles and stock moved to higher ground if required.

There had been no cause for undue concern at that stage, but Civil Defence was urging people, including surfers, to adopt a "practical" approach and take a few simple precautions, including keeping up-to-date with the weather forecasts.

Meanwhile, the high tide at Ahipara inundated the normally high and dry area occupied by the resident breeding pair of New Zealand dotterels, but Jackie Klever said the birds appeared to have moved further north, and were not believed to have been in any difficulty.

The two chicks that had hatched from the three eggs laid last season had fledged and left home, but "mum and dad" were still around, she said.

- Northland Age

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