Miserable weather to continue; MetService
Bad weather is continuing to make life miserable in rain-sodden and wind-battered Northland – with the latest forecasts showing no real respite in sight for the next couple of days with more flooding and strong winds now likely.
The latest MetService severe weather warning for northern and eastern parts of the region, issued just after 9am today, is forecasting rain and strong winds to continue today and tomorrow.
Claire Nyberg, spokesperson for the Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Group says the MetService predicts close to 100mm of rain could accumulate in some northern and eastern areas, particularly north of the Bay of Islands, in the 39 hours from 9am today to midnight tomorrow.
Similarly, northeast gales with gusts of 90-110km/hr are expected in exposed places today and during Friday, but may rise to 100 to 120km/h in exposed places tomorrow afternoon or evening.
Ms Nyberg says while the MetService points out the rain now expected is technically below warning criteria, it notes that it is likely to fall on already sodden areas and may lead to further surface flooding and slips, as well as causing already swollen rivers to rise further.
"It's a similar story with the wind; technically it's below warning criteria, but again is still likely to cause problems for some people in affected areas."
Ms Nyberg says a number of eastern and inland rivers and streams from Kaeo down to Whangarei in particular are already struggling to cope with the volumes of water in them. Further rain today – coupled with high tide on the east coast about 4.40pm – could bring more flooding in parts of those areas prone to it.
And she says ongoing power outages, impaired telecommunications and other issues caused by the wind continue to cause problems in the region.
Earlier today electricity company Northpower estimated it had now managed to restore power to all but about 1200 of its customers. Ongoing trouble spots included Pataua, with just over 300 customers affected, Tangowahine Valley and Kirikopuni area (over 200 customers affected) and Maungaturoto and Whakapirau with just over 70 customers affected. It was also dealing with numerous other pockets of faults over its network, but noted rural Dargaville seemed to be more affected.
Further north, Far North power company Top Energy – which had gone into last night with as many as 11,000 of its customers without power – was expected to update officials later this morning.
Regional Harbourmaster Jim Lyle today asked boat owners to check to make sure their vessels had not been damaged by others that had broken free during this week's wild weather – but only if it was safe for them to do so.
Mr Lyle says maritime officials are encountering increasing numbers of problems where moored boats had been struck by others which had broken free and drifted into them before the latter had eventually sunk or washed up on shore.
He says maritime staff have managed to contact most of the owners of the two dozen or so worst-affected vessels but provided it was safe to do so, other owners might like to check their boats today ahead of the strong winds now forecast.
Meanwhile, on the roading front, officials say a number of routes are still being affected by the weather, including by floods, debris and fallen trees.
Ms Nyberg says information about any ongoing local district council road and State Highway closures/issues in Northland is available from the Automobile Association website via www.AAroadwatch.co.nz
The site contains a map and brief description of closed/affected roads and an indication of when the issue/s involved is likely to be resolved.
She says other sources of weather-related information include the Northland CDEM Group's Facebook page – www.facebook.com/civildefencenorthland and the Northland Regional Council's website www.nrc.govt.nz/civildefence "
Ms Nyberg repeated earlier advice that in the first instance, people with any concerns about property damage and insurance claims should contact their insurance companies directly, rather than their local council.