More rain and thunderstorms on the way in Northland

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The heavy rain brought surface flooding to SH10 at Cottle Hill, south of the Kerikeri turnoff. Wild weather, 9 March 2017, Northern Advocate photo by Peter de Graaf
The heavy rain brought surface flooding to SH10 at Cottle Hill, south of the Kerikeri turnoff. Wild weather, 9 March 2017, Northern Advocate photo by Peter de Graaf

While Northland farmers are rejoicing after a prolonged dry spell, others are bracing for a severe downpour of up to 100mm of rain in some areas and thunderstorms for the rest of this week.

There were about 2700 lightning strikes in Northland in the 12 hours to 4.20pm yesterday, most of which were offshore. Four hundred struck land, mostly in the mid north.

MetService issued a severe thunderstorm watch for Northland and apart from heavy rain and thunderstorms, the Far North in particular will experience overnight temperatures of around 20C and near 100 per cent humidity.

Elsewhere in Northland, humidity in expected to be between 90 per cent and 95 per cent with daytime temperatures in the mid to late 20s until Sunday evening.

MetService forecaster Peter Little said a moist northeasterly flow was not showing any signs of easing off until early next week when a new ridge of high pressure would bring more settled weather.

Mr Little said downpours of between 30mm and 50mm an hour could cause flash flooding across Northland today and into the weekend, especially in low-lying areas such as streams, rivers or narrow valleys, and may also lead to slips and hazardous driving conditions.

Intense rain over short time periods was recorded in many areas throughout the region yesterday.

Wiroa Rd in Waitangi recorded 62.5mm in one hour and Oakura, north of Whangarei, received 48.5mm of rain over the same duration yesterday. Mr Little said the wind was expected to die down later this afternoon after a change from easterlies to northerlies.

Cape Reinga recorded gusts of 105km/h between 2pm and 3pm yesterday, Tutukaka Harbour 100km/he between 12pm and 1pm, and Whangarei Airport 68km/hr between 11pm and midday.

Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) spokeswoman Victoria Randall yesterday advised people to be aware of the possibility of localised flooding particulalary on Ngunguru Rd and around Kaeo.

The wild weather yesterday brought traffic delays and surface flooding in some places, including across State Highway 10 at Cottle Hill and on Kerikeri Rd.

At Waiomio, just south of Kawakawa, heavy rain is thought to have contributed to a crash about 10.30am yesterday in which a truck belonging to Christchurch-based demolition firm Nikau Contractors came to grief in a swamp.

The accident occurred on State Highway 1 opposite Waiomio Rd and directly outside Miria Marae.

The northbound truck demolished a 50m-long section of fence as it slid off the road, tumbled down a bank and came to rest jack-knifed and partly submerged in a stream. The driver suffered only minor injuries.

Kokopu dairy farmer Royce Kokich said the drought was definitely broken with the amount of rain Northland had so far.

"There's good quality rain spread over several days and it soaks into the ground well. Grass recovery is very good."

Federated Farmers Northland dairy chairman Ashley Cullen said the "nice and gentle" rather than relentless rain over a number of days was exactly what was needed.

"It's going to be a few days before the grass starts taking off. Hopefully we don't get as much rain as in Coromandel ... we won't be able to handle that," he said.

Mr Cullen said it was safe to say this rain was a drought breaker.

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