Northland has become the third region to declare a state of emergency. The declaration was made at 1pm today and will last for seven days. It follows Auckland declaring a state of emergency on Friday night and Waitomo on Saturday night.
MetService this morning extended its rain warnings across the North Island as an “atmospheric river” is due to hit already soaked areas across Northland, Auckland, and Bay of Plenty. Schools and all learning facilities have closed for the week in Auckland and mayor Wayne Brown has urged residents to “stay home” wherever possible as the new system threatens to bring rainfall similar to the deadly deluge on Friday.
The MetService this morning released satellite imagery showing the deepening low moving towards New Zealand - “here it comes”, the agency said. “Deep, moisture-laden clouds with cold tops mean lots of rain. A deepening low just northwest of the country sinks south overnight, bringing the area of intense rainfall to the far north.”
The red heavy rain warning is now in place for Northland until 4am Wednesday. It comes into place for Auckland north of Orewa from 4pm today to 8am Wednesday and for the Coromandel from 10pm today to 3pm Wednesday. An orange warning is in place for the rest of Auckland from 8pm today to 10am Wednesday and for Bay of Plenty west of Whakatane from 3am tomorrow to 9pm. Bay of Plenty east of Whakatane and Gisborne north of Ruatoria is under an orange warning from 1pm tomorrow to 10am Thursday. A red warning means rain is expected to cause dangerous river conditions and significant flooding. Slips and floodwaters are likely to disrupt travel, making some roads impassable and possibly isolating communities.
A new heavy rain watch has been issued for parts of Tasman, Westland, Waikato and Mount Taranaki.
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Auckland has experienced record rainfall with widespread flooding creating hazards for people and properties since Friday. So far this year the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research [Niwa] said Auckland has already recorded 38 per cent of its usual annual rainfall - and 769 per cent of its average January rainfall.
Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown declared a state of emergency for region on Friday night, which came into force immediately and will last seven days. “Stay home if you can,” Brown said. “The ground is so saturated, that if anything [the coming rain] could be worse than Friday.”
The Ministry of Education has directed all Auckland schools to close for physical on-site attendance until Friday, opening after Waitangi weekend. Schools and kura can open remotely for distance learning.
Mayor Brown has faced intense scrutiny over his handling of the Auckland floods and revealed a full independent review will be conducted into the council, Government and Civil Defence response to the weather crisis.
The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) is also on standby at two bases in the Auckland region to assist if required.
There are also military liaison officers at Auckland Emergency Centre, Warkworth Civil Defence Centre, and in Northland.
“There are a couple of Unimog trucks with supplies at RNZAF Base Auckland available if needed to reach flood-affected areas. Other supplies are at RNZAF Base Auckland if these are needed,” an NZDF spokesperson said.
So far, 40 Auckland homes have been deemed uninhabitable and red-stickered, while 151 are yellow-stickered.
Yesterday afternoon, officials upgraded a rainfall warning to red for parts of Auckland, Coromandel and Northland.
Some 45 Auckland roads are closed or restricted and an entire section of State Highway 25A on the Coromandel Peninsula has been washed away during the intense weather.
Roading contractors continued yesterday clearing slips and debris to minimise travel disruption.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency regional manager of maintenance and operations Jacqui Hori-Hoult said contractors have worked hard to clear some slips and debris on SH1 at the Brynderwyns, but because there’s a very real risk of further slipping at any time, they made the decision to keep the stretch closed for now.
One forecaster warns the new rounds of rainfall - caused by the same stubborn subtropical low that brought Friday’s flooding - could bring 100mm to 200mm to parts of Northland, Auckland and the Coromandel in coming days.
“The very warm and humid air mass covering Aotearoa brings ripe conditions for persistent, heavy rain plus the risk of thunderstorms which can further intensify the rainfall,” MetService meteorologist Lewis Ferris said.
Northland Civil Defence controller Graeme MacDonald said with the newly-forecast heavy rain coming on top of the constant heavy rain the region had already had, streams and rivers may rise rapidly and become dangerous.
“Surface flooding, slips and flood water are likely to close roads and disrupt travel. Flooding of low-lying areas is also possible,” McDonald said.
MacDonald added for the 24 hours from 4am today to 4am Wednesday, MetService is now forecasting between 100 to 140mm of rain, especially in the north and east of the region.
However, he warns localised areas may receive as much as 140 to 220mm over that same period.
“Peak rates of 10 to 20mm/h are expected, but again, localised areas could see 25 to 40mm/h from thunderstorms.”
Forecasters said the rain is expected to start in the north, with potential impacts being seen across the region by this afternoon.
“With this new warning, the key message to Northlanders is to please stay prepared, have a plan in case you need to evacuate, keep up to date with the latest information and weather conditions, and most importantly avoid any non-essential travel tomorrow and potentially Wednesday morning - if you must drive, please drive to the conditions and keep an eye out for hazards,” MacDonald said.
Due to the widespread flooding, slips and extensive damage, some businesses are asking office staff to work from home, while others have closed their doors until further notice.
The Ministry of Education’s secretary for education Iona Holstead said the National Emergency Management Agency (Nema) asked the ministry to take action to help minimise traffic movement on Auckland roads while vital infrastructure is urgently repaired.
“With the possibility of further weather damage leading to more disruption, the Secretary for Education has directed that schools, kura, early learning services and Tertiary Organisations in the Auckland region (Wellsford to Pukekohe) to close for physical onsite attendance until Friday, opening after Waitangi weekend,” Holstead said.
“Schools and kura can open remotely for distance learning. As few staff as needed can be on-site to prepare for distance learning, and to oversee hostels if required.”
Holstead said tertiary organisations may also provide distance learning. Early learning services may allow the physical attendance of any child whose parent needs them to do so but must otherwise be closed.
Early learning services will continue to be funded.
“Principals and education leaders have done a fantastic job of readying their schools for opening, and I know that this decision will be upsetting for some of them and for some parents,” Holstead said. “I know this is a late announcement that will cause disruption and I thank the sector in advance. We need to get Tāmaki Makaurau back up and running as quickly as possible.”
Auckland’s extreme rain event also damaged the Auckland District Court, and caused minor damage to some other court buildings. District Courts around the city will hear priority proceedings this week, while the Auckland District Court will be closed for at least the rest of this week while flood damage is repaired.
After intense scrutiny regarding his handling of Auckland’s crisis, mayor Wayne Brown has revealed a “full review” of the council and Civil Defence’s responses is to be conducted.
“Yes, there have been hiccups. I accept our communications have not been good enough,” Brown said.
The mayor stated that a review of the operations will be conducted but added he followed instructions and does not believe he did anything wrong.
“I am certainly not going to resign,” Brown said.