Heavy rain, strong winds likely for Northland

14 Mar 2014

Northlanders and visitors to the region are being warned of potentially heavy rain, strong winds and storm surges tonight as the remains of Tropical Cyclone Lusi affect the region.

MetService forecasters have this morning issued a heavy rain warning for Northland, predicting the region may receive 70-100mm of rain, mainly about its eastern hills, in the 21 hours from 6pm today.

They're also forecasting easterly winds likely to rise to gale force and which could gust up to 120km/h (mainly about higher ground and in exposed places) from midnight tonight to midnight Sunday and of storm surges with swells for four to six metres along Northland's east coast.

Graeme MacDonald, spokesman for the Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Group, says the combination of these factors may cause erosion and flooding in low-lying coastal areas typically affected by such events.

He says while officials will be keeping a close eye on the situation as the low draws closer, the overall rainfall now forecast – while heavy – is not out of the ordinary for Northland at this time of year.

"Importantly at just 10-15mm an hour, the predicted hourly peak rainfall intensities are also unlikely to cause any unexpected, major problems and may in fact bring some welcome relief to a number of our farmers, who have been enduring very dry conditions for some time."

Mr MacDonald says as a general rule Northlanders are familiar with the weather-related precautions they need to take and typically cope with storms well.

"Both locals and frequent visitors to our region are familiar with the spots that regularly flood and/or slip during heavy rain events and usually take such things in their stride," Mr MacDonald says.

He says with the strong winds and storm surges predicted, people are advised to secure any belongings they think might be at risk and keep up to date with the latest weather forecasts.

Mr MacDonald says farmers with stock in low-lying areas will be making their own assessments of the latest forecasts in terms of whether their animals need to be moved to higher ground. Similarly, boaties – if they haven't already done so – should make sure their vessels are secure.