Gisborne and Hawke's Bay are bracing for flooding as heavy rain pounds the east of the North Island.
A severe weather warning has been issued for the two regions last night, with 120-150mm further rainfall for Gisborne from 9am to 3am tomorrow and 140 to 180mm in Hawke's Bay in the 24-hours from 9am today.
The rain is expected to ease tomorrow morning, but another 50-80mm may fall later on Thursday and Friday in both areas.
MetService advised people in these areas are advised to watch out for flooded streams and rivers, slips and hazardous driving conditions.
From midday yesterday until 8am today, Te Puia, near Tokomaru Bay, has already had 139mm of rainfall, Gisborne has had 75.6mm, and Te Pohue, in the hills northwest of Napier, has had 73mm of rainfall.
Hawke's Bay Civil Defence spokesperson Ian McDonald told Radio New Zealand the heavy rain, coupled with large swells, could cause flooding in low-lying areas.
Gisborne Civil Defence currently has an "alert" status, and in a "monitoring and information gathering mode".
People in the Gisborne area are being advised not to travel unless they absolutely have to.
At least three schools in the Gisborne region have closed because of the weather.
Gisborne Girls' High School has closed because of sewage overflow, and Tolaga Bay and Ngatapa Schools have closed because of accessibility problems.
Gisborne Civil Defence said rivers are running high, particularly in Gisborne city and Tolaga Bay.
Group controller Jon Davies said surface flooding has caused some roads to close, and people should make sure they drive to the conditions and check the council website for road closures.
Mr Davies said at this stage state highways are still open but slips and fallen trees are being cleared.
A severe weather watch is also in place for Northland, Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty, Rotorua, Taupo and Taranaki.
Periods of heavy rain are expected in Northland, Coromandel Peninsula and the Bay of Plenty over the course of the day, while gale southeasterly winds are expected in exposed parts of eastern Bay of Plenty, Taupo and Taranaki, before easing tonight or tomorrow morning.
- Herald Online