Key Points:

  • A woman is dead after tree crushed her car in Rotorua
  • Kaiaua and coastal Coromandel communites have been cut off by rising floodwaters
  • An evacuation centre has opened north of Thames for stranded residents and motorists
  • Floodwaters earlier swamped sections of Auckland's motorways
  • Major roads across the North Island have been closed by flooding and toppled trees
  • Flights have been cancelled in Rotorua, Tauranga and Gisborne.

The deadly storm causing chaos across the North Island is now expected to sweep over the centre of the country tonight. Southern regions are now on a flooding alert.

In its latest advisory MetService says the storm will track over the lower North Island this evening bringing a brief deluge to most regions.

Destructive gales powerful enough to topple trees and send structures flyings will continue to batter the North Island and north Canterbury today and tomorrow.

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Winds of up to 130km/h will continue to howl through Auckland and Great Barrier Island for another four hours.

MetService warns that on top of today's coastal flooding in the north, western and southern areas are now at risk, especially along Wellington's south coast.

Here's what's in store for the next 30 hours across the country:

Northland: 10am-6pm. Severe northerly gales gusting 130km/h in exposed places before turning westerly early this afternoon, possible severe gales gusting 120km/h in exposed places with winds easing this evening.

Auckland including Great Barrier Island: From 10am–6pm. Severe northerly gales gusting 130km/h in exposed places before becoming westerly early this afternoon, possibly rising to severe gales gusting 120km/h for a time, with winds easing this evening.

Coromandel Peninsula, Waikato, Waitomo, Taumarunui, Bay of Plenty, Rotorua, Taupo and Taranaki: From 10am-6pm. North-to-northeast winds, severe gale gusting 120km/h at times, changing westerly this evening and easing.

Bay of Plenty from Opotiki eastwards: From 2pm–9pm Periods of rain with heavy falls from midday until midnight. Expect 70-100mm to accumulate on top of what has already fallen. Peak intensities of 15-25 mm/hr and thunderstorms possible.

Gisborne and Hawke's Bay:From midday to 6pm. Northerlies may rise to severe gales gusting 120km/h in exposed places this afternoon.

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Tongariro National Park: MIdday-midnight. Periods of rain with heavy falls from midday until midnight. Expect 70-100mm of rain to accumulate on what has already fallen. Peak intensities of 15-25 mm/hr and thunderstorms possible.

Mt Taranaki: 10am–9pm. Periods of rain with heavy falls expected to continue through to Friday evening then easing. A further 70-100mm of rain to accumulate on top of what has already fallen. Peak intensities of 20-30mm/hr and thunderstorms possible.

Kapiti-Horowhenua, Wellington and Wairarapa including Tararua District: For 30 hours from 10am Friday to 4pm Saturday. East to northeast winds may become severe along coastal Wairarapa including the Tararua District from morning until evening. Winds then change southwesterly tonight rising to severe gales gusting 120km/h in exposed places until Saturday afternoon. Coastal inundation may affect the south coast of Wellington, especially during high tide on Saturday morning.

Marlborough: 18 hours from 9pm to 3pm Saturday. Southwest winds are expected to develop this evening rising to severe gale gusting 120km/h in exposed places, especially along the Kaikoura Coast. Winds should ease Saturday afternoon.

Marlborough including the Kaikoura Coast: 6pm-midnight. Rain with some heavy falls should ease this morning but another period of heavy rain is expected this evening about the Kaikoura Coast and ranges with a further 50-70mm of rain to fall. Peak intensities of 10-15mm/hr.

Earlier heavy rain warnings in northern Gisborne, Auckland, Coromandel Peninsula, the Tararua Range and Nelson have been lifted.

The heaviest rain is expected about central North Island ranges and the top of the South Island. Warnings are in place for the rest of the day across Bay of Plenty from Opotiki east, Tongariro National Park, Mt Taranaki, Marlborough and the Kaikoura Coast.

Much of the North Island remains under a wind warning with the southern half expecting severe gales of up to 120km/h until Saturday at 4pm.

MetService warns flooding could hit the south coast of the Wellington during high tide tomorrow morning.

But the weather was set to get better late Saturday when the low finally taking off to the east and showers and strong winds clearing or easing by the afternoon.