Cyclone: A 'dangerous and difficult' weekend for travel

By Teuila Fuatai, APNZ staff

Motorists are being warned to be extra vigilant on the roads this weekend, with weather from severe Tropical Cyclone Lusi likely to make driving conditions dangerous.

The remnants of the cyclone are expected to reach northern New Zealand early in the weekend, bringing heavy rain and potentially damaging winds, before it moves south.

The Transport Agency today advised all drivers to carefully plan their weekend travel.

Bursts of heavy rain, and severe wind reaching up to 120km/h in parts of Northland and Coromandel, are forecast for Saturday night and Sunday morning.
Bursts of heavy rain, and severe wind reaching up to 120km/h in parts of Northland and Coromandel, are forecast for Saturday night and Sunday morning.

"It is important to drive to the conditions," Transport Agency's national journey manager Kathryn Musgrave said.

Special care should be taken in areas exposed to strong winds, like the Auckland Harbour Bridge and coastal roads, keeping an eye out for surface flooding and fallen trees and debris, Mrs Musgrave said.

"We ask drivers to watch their speeds on corners, and remain vigilant for slips, debris and the higher risk of vehicles losing control in these conditions.

"It is going to be a dangerous and difficult weekend for travel," she said.

An already saturated Christchurch is putting emergency precautions in place ahead of the storm.

Christchurch City Council, Civil Defence and key agencies have been working to prepare for the storm, Mayor Lianne Dalziel said.

The city's stormwater and drainage systems have already been checked, and emergency responses are being put in place.

"This is a situation where if we prepare for the worst case scenario, we will be ready for what may come. I'd much rather we put too many precautions in place than not enough," she said.

Read more:
Cyclone Lusi: What you need to know

Parts of the city suffered severe flooding after heavy rain last week.

Ms Dalziel said councillors and community board members had been briefed by Civil Defence, and would be getting more technical advice about preparations later today.

"We are also calling on communities and individuals to prepare as best they can for the forecast rain.

"We will have more information for people on our preparations and precautions ahead of Sunday. This will help community groups and residents across the city prepare."

Christchurch residents needed to be extra wary of the storm conditions, Metservice spokesman Dan Corbett said.

"They'll get into a time of persistent rain over eastern parts of the South Island. We've already had discussions with the council because of all the flooding in the last week or so."

The Fiji Meteorological Service has now upgraded the cyclone to category 3, with winds between 120 and 160km/h. Lusi is currently southwest of Fiji, and is on track to reach New Zealand late on Friday or early Saturday.

"It's looking like quite a mean and ugly storm," Mr Corbett said.

He said Lusi would move south over the next 24 to 48 hours, starting to weaken as it moves into cooler water.

It will reach Northland, Auckland and Coromandel first, bringing strong to severe gales and heavy rain.

The weather system will then move down the country, with the worst weather in the South Island expected late Saturday night or in the early hours of Sunday.

Tropical Cyclone Lusi is heading towards New Zealand, as seen in this satellite image. Photo / Japanese Meteorological agency.
Tropical Cyclone Lusi is heading towards New Zealand, as seen in this satellite image. Photo / Japanese Meteorological agency.

Weekend events changed due to weather:

• The Cancer Society's Relay for Life in Rotorua on Saturday has been shortened from a 22-hour event to an eight-hour event

• The Auckland West Relay For Life has been cancelled. People can transfer to Auckland North Relay on 29/30th March. For more info go to www.relay.org.nz.

• Panasonic People's Triathlon at Maraetai Beach on Sunday has been postponed until March 30

• Salty Classic fishing competition 2014 cancelled

• Kaurilands Primary School Fun Fair, postponed to March 29

• Auckland's Silo Park cinema screening on Friday, cancelled

• Whangaparaoa Gala postponed until March 22.

* 360 Discovery ferry services cancelled:

- Coromandel: Friday and Saturday

- Tiritiri Matangi from Downtown and Gulf Harbour, Saturday

- passengers should check www.360discovery.co.nz as Sunday service to Tiritiri Matangai may also be cancelled

Events which could be affected:

• Chiefs vs Stormers, Waikato Stadium in Hamilton, Friday

• Hurricanes vs Cheetahs, Westpac Stadium in Wellington, Saturday

• Vodafone Warriors v St. George Illawarra Dragons at Eden Park, Saturday

• Te Houtaewa challenge, 90 Mile Beach, Saturday

• Bayswater Auto Show and Family Fun Day, Bayswater School, Sunday

• Harbourview Sculpture trail, Te Atatu Peninsula, open until March 30

• Final series in the Swim Rotorua Open Water Swim, Lake Okataina, Sunday

• Rotorua Walking Festival, Saturday and Sunday

• Tarawera Ultramarathon, Saturday

• Rotorua's Pasifika Family Fun Day event

• Womad music festival, Taranaki, Friday - Sunday

• Wairarapa Balloon Fiesta, Thursday - Sunday

• Wairarapa Wine Festival on Saturday

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.

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.

- APNZ

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