Lynley Bilby

Lynley Bilby is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Lusi fun for daredevils

Power cuts, flooding, toppled trees and coastal erosion storm's main impact.

Former cyclone Lusi proved to be more of a wind bag than a raging beast - to the delight of beach-bound thrillseekers.

As the broad storm tracked south from the Far North, power was to cut to thousands of homes, roads were flooded by large coastal swells and trees toppled by the high winds.

But the anticipated widespread damage did not eventuate as Lusi was downgraded to a deep depression by landfall on Friday night.

Lusi is expected to bring her damp gustiness to the lower North Island and upper South Island today.

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Last night, Auckland Council identified 50 properties as potentially needing evacuation due to the large sea swell.

Auckland Council Civil Defence controller Clive Manley said high tides on the east coast might cause coastal erosion due to the swell.

You can track Cyclone Lusi in real time here.

The heavy seas and strong northeasterly conditions drew hundreds to east coast beaches including Takapuna on Auckland's North Shore.

Surfers, windsurfers, kitesurfers, kayakers, boogie boarders and long boarders navigated 3m swells, oblivious to official warnings to keep clear of the beaches.

You can view a map of outages here.

Earlier in the afternoon, a sea and air search was mounted after a boy was reported missing in the water at Takapuna.

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Police later said the swimmer made it out of the water safely and went home, unaware he was the focus of a rescue operation.

Weather forecasters say the worst of former tropical cyclone Lusi is over for those living in northern regions, though it is predicted to pack a nasty parting punch as it tracks south today.

Severe weather warnings are in place for southern parts of the North Island and the top of the South Island but conditions are expected to improve during the day in Auckland and northern areas, according to the MetService.

Meteorologist John Law said Wellington and Wairarapa could expect severe northwesterly gales of up to 130km/h while Nelson and Marlborough and parts of Canterbury and Otago would experience heavy bursts of rain.

Law said it was "an improving story" for Auckland as rainy conditions were expected to clear throughout the day and the weather was expected to improve everywhere tomorrow.

Yesterday, the Fire Service responded to approximately 160 incidents in the northern region, mostly for trees on powerlines.

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Firefighters also secured a roof in Orewa that was being lifted by strong winds.

Law said yesterday's storm brought winds as high as 120km/h in the Hauraki Gulf.

The strongest gust was 139km/h recorded at Cape Reinga in the Far North.

While the rain was patchy, especially throughout Auckland, parts of the North Island were saturated.

Paeroa recorded 200mm in 24 hours.

The Auckland Harbourmaster said three boats had to be secured after they broke from their moorings in the heavy conditions.

A 7m swell was recorded at Marsden Pt in Northland and a ship was also redirected to shelter off the Coromandel Peninsula.

Meteorologist Dan Corbett said: "The old wind bag called Lusi will finally loosen her grip on parts of the country when she slides east of the South Island during the early hours of Sunday."

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Before a storm:

* Develop a household emergency plan. Assemble and maintain your emergency survival items, as well as a portable getaway kit.

* Prepare your property by securing large heavy objects and any item which could become a deadly or damaging missile.

* Keep materials at hand for repairing windows, such as tarpaulins, boards and duct tape.

When a warning is issued and during a storm:

* Stay informed on weather updates. Listen to your local radio stations for advice for your community and situation.

* Put your household emergency plan into action and check your getaway kit.

* Secure, or move indoors, all items that could get blown about in strong winds.

* Close windows, external and internal doors. Pull curtains and drapes over unprotected glass areas.

* If the wind becomes destructive, stay away from doors and windows and shelter inside the house.

* Water supplies can be affected so store drinking water in containers and fill bathtubs and sinks.

* Power cuts are possible in severe weather. Unplug small appliances which may be affected by electrical power surges, and if power is lost, unplug major appliances.

* Bring pets inside. Move stock to shelter. If you have to evacuate, take your pets with you.

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After a storm:

* Listen to your local radio stations for the most appropriate advice for your community and situation.

* Check for injuries and help others if you can, especially people who require special assistance.

* Look for and report broken utility lines.

* Contact your local council if your house has been severely damaged.

* If your property or contents are damaged take notes and photographs and contact your insurance company.

Detailed advice is at www.getthru.govt.nz.

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Storm advice:

* Stay clear of fallen power lines or damaged electrical equipment and treat them as live at all times

* Ensure garden furniture and umbrellas are put away or tied down

* Ensure trampolines are tied down

* Watch out for falling tree branches which can damage power lines

* Avoid possible damage to electrical appliances (in the unlikely event there is a power surge when the power is restored) by switching off appliances at the wall

* Keep a torch and spare batteries handy and ensure you have at least one telephone that does not rely on electricity for operation

Ensure an alternate fuel supply is available for cooking (eg gas for barbecue)

Source: Vector.

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- Herald on Sunday

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