Warning for North Island as storm bears down

Winemakers, wedding celebrants and outdoor enthusiasts are rushing to rearrange plans for the weekend, with the remnants of Tropical Cyclone Lusi expected to bear down on the upper North Island.

Weather forecasters said the worst of the weather, destined for Northland, Auckland and Coromandel, will arrive overnight on Saturday.

The destructive weather pattern has prompted Civil Defence to warn people to remain indoors and prepare for the rough conditions.

Waiheke wedding celebrant Irene Armstrong had three outdoor weddings planned on the island this weekend. All three are being moved indoors, with one couple, hoping for a beach wedding, shifting venues to a private house.

"With the vineyards, they always have a back-up location. We always make it work," Ms Armstrong said.

"Everyone always has a back-up plan. We have to because the weather's so unpredictable, even in summer."

Bursts of heavy rain, and severe wind reaching up to 120km/h in parts of Northland and Coromandel, are forecast for Saturday night and Sunday morning, WeatherWatch analyst Philip Duncan said.

Heavy rain would also sweep across Auckland, but it was not expected to cause flooding.

Anyone hoping for activities at the beach should make other plans, Mr Duncan said.

"The weather poses a risk to life and property," he said.

Civil Defence officials yesterday reminded people to have an emergency survival kit and household emergency plan prepared.

The Coastguard also advised boaties to seek a temporary berth for vessels in a marina this weekend.

Andrew Sains, who is due to run the 42km Te Houtaewa Challenge on Ninety Mile Beach, said his plans were likely to be disrupted by the stormy weather.

The Panasonic People's Triathlon Series at Maraetai Beach, which was supposed to take place on Sunday, has been postponed to March 30.

Mr Duncan said people who lived along the western slopes of the Kaimai Range in Waikato should get ready to be slammed.

"I think winds in that area, certainly on the mountains of the Kaimais, we'll be seeing 150km/h plus. The last cyclone that hit with a similar kind of strength was Fergus, back in 1996, and that blew brick walls down."

MetService meteorologist Dan Corbett said a severe weatherwatch was already in place for Northland, Auckland and Coromandel for tomorrow night and Saturday.

While the weather was expected to track further south, hitting the South Island's east coast on Sunday, it was expected to be less severe, he said.

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