High winds, waves likely as weekend weather hits Northland

20 May 2016

The Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management Group is closely monitoring a severe weather forecast for this weekend, and says there is potential for west coast harbours – Hokianga in particular – to be affected.

The MetService has today issued a strong-wind warning for Northland, forecasting a deep low that will bring with it severe west or southwest gales gusting up to 120 km/h in exposed places from tomorrow afternoon until the early hours of Sunday.

These winds are likely to be experienced across Northland, and homeowners throughout the region are advised to take the usual precautions to secure loose items around their properties, while boaties should check their moorings, ahead of the low's arrival.

A focus for Civil Defence is an unusual combination of a long 'fetch' (the length of water over which wind has blown) together with a large high tide for some areas on the west coast about 10pm tomorrow, and low barometric pressure.

"The fetch alone allows winds to push waves to significant heights, especially on the west coast; collectively it, an already big high tide and low pressure will allow the tide to rise even further," Northland CDEM spokesperson Shona Morgan says.

"Past experience in Northland has been that this combination of conditions can cause inundation by the sea," she says. "This is a possibility at all west coast harbours on Saturday evening, but particularly the Hokianga."

Ms Morgan says low-lying foreshore and estuary areas should be avoided around the high tide, and vehicles and stock moved to higher ground if required.

"Owners of boats moored in Northland's west coast harbours should be aware of the extra challenging combination of weather and tidal conditions that their vessels may be facing, and take additional steps to secure them."

She says while the worst of the weather's effects are likely to come overnight on Saturday, the large seas are likely to continue for some time.

"We're urging people to take a common sense approach over the entire weekend, including surfers and others who might otherwise be tempted to head into the water to take advantage of the big seas."

"At this stage, there's no cause for undue concern; we just want people to adopt a practical approach and take a few simple precautions, including keeping up to date with the latest weather forecasts," Ms Morgan says.