Wind, more rain, flooding expected in North today
A sting in the tale of the storm that has plagued Northlanders for several days is likely to bring strong winds, more heavy rain and more flooding, the Met Service is warning.
In its latest severe weather warning for northern and eastern parts of Northland, issued at 9.12am today, the MetService says outbreaks of heavy rain are expected to continue through to tomorrow morning.
Graeme MacDonald, spokesman for the Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Group, says in the 24 hours to 9am tomorrow another 80 to 120mm of rain is expected, especially about the eastern hills.
"The heaviest falls are expected overnight Friday and early Saturday morning, when intensities may reach 15 to 25mm per hour, or even 30mm per hour in isolated spots."
Mr MacDonald says given the amount of existing flooding – and large volumes of rain that have already fallen on the region – rainfall of the intensity predicted would immediately impact on affected areas and increase surface flooding dramatically.
At this stage the area that could be affected stretched along the region's east coast and eastern hills, but also central areas from Kaitaia down to Whangarei.
On top of the rain, forecasters are also warning of north-easterlies reaching severe gale in Northland, especially tonight and overnight.
Mr MacDonald says gusts of up to 100km/h are expected which may be sustained for a time and power companies, which have been working hard to restore power to thousands of affected customers, had some concerns these could bring down trees whose roots were already loose in sodden ground.
Far North power company Top Energy this morning reported it still had about 3600 customers without electricity and was continuing to work hard in adverse conditions to reduce that as much as possible. In the Whangarei and Kaipara Districts, Northpower reports all but several hundred customers now have power.
Mr MacDonald says many of those will have been without power for several days now and authorities – including the Ministry of Social Development and others – were working today to make sure any resulting welfare needs, including food, would be met. He says if assistance is required, district council Civil Defence personnel will be able to refer those in need to the appropriate agency.
Mr MacDonald 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 or the NZTA website www.nzta.govt.nz Those sites contain maps and brief description of closed/affected roads and an indication of when the issue/s involved is likely to be resolved.
However, despite the best efforts of all concerned, Mr MacDonald says the length and changeable nature of the weather event continues to make it difficult to accurately capture in real-time exactly which Northland roads and highways are open or affected.
Mr MacDonald says on that basis, officials are continuing to urge people not to travel unless absolutely necessary, with the Far North District Council alone reporting it still had more than 60 roads across the district closed in places or reduced to one lane late yesterday as a result of floods, fallen trees and land subsidence.
Meanwhile, he says as the storm continues, increasing numbers of places are receiving in just days the equivalent of at least their normal average rainfall for the entire month of July. In Kaikohe's case, the 320.6mm that had fallen there between 8am Tuesday and 7am today was almost twice the 172mm it usually received during July.
Northland Regional Council figures show that over that same period from 8am Tuesday to 7am today, a total of 390mm of rain had fallen at Puhipuhi, north of Whangarei, (July monthly average 234mm), 340mm had fallen on the Glenbervie Forest (July monthly average 190mm) and 311mm at Wiroa Rd (upper Waitangi River, eastern Lake Omapere; July average 188mm)
Over the same period 281mm had fallen at Ohaeawai, 269mm at Otiria, 239.5mm at Kaeo, 235.2mm at the Northland Regional Council's Whangarei offices, 207.5mm on the Hikurangi Swamp, 198mm at Kerikeri, 158.5mm at Ngunguru, 84mm on Kaipara's Tutamoe Ranges, 77.5mm at Maungaturoto, 73.5mm at Larmer Rd in the southern Kaitaia area and 65.6mm at Dargaville.
Information will continue to be posted as required, including on the Northland CDEM Group's Facebook page – www.facebook.com/civildefencenorthland and the Northland Regional Council's website www.nrc.govt.nz/civildefence