Cloud is building and skies have started to darken in
northern areas of the country as ex Tropical Cyclone Lusi
bears ever closer.
Residents have been warned to prepare for the worst, as
forecast gales, heavy rain and coastal swells threaten to
cause localised flooding, slips, road closures and power
Firefighters have already been called out to a small number
of incidents in the Far North.
Downed power lines fell into a nearby paddock in Kaeo, while
strong winds caused a tree to topple across a road in
Parahaki, north of Whangarei, Fire Service northern
communications shift commander Jaron Philips said.
Rain has begun to lash northern parts of the country, and
winds are beginning to pick up.
In Auckland preparations are continuing for tomorrow's
expected stormy weather.
Auckland harbourmaster Andrew Hayton said all staff would be
on call over the weekend.
Boaties should check the moorings of their boats before the
worst of the weather comes in, he said.
"We don't want people going out in a small dinghy at the
height of the storm to check on their boats.''
Mr Hayton said he would be in regular contact with Ports of
Auckland officials to manage the situation.
"We've looked at some of the big ships and decided we'd keep
them out at sea.
"The winds are just a bit too strong to manoeuvre some of
these vessels safely in port,'' he said.
No cruise ships were due to dock in Auckland until Monday.
It was up to the individual ship master to decide whether
they would sail through any rough conditions, Mr Hayton said.
A Fullers Ferry spokeswoman advised passengers to check the
organisation's website and Facebook page for updates.
Staff were monitoring the weather closely, and cancellations
and postponements would be made if appropriate, she said.
All passengers who had prebooked their tickets were entitled
to a refund if shippings changed due to the weather, she
Cyclone expected tonight
The deadly cyclone is expected to hit northern New Zealand
tonight, with the brunt of the storm to be felt across the
North Island tomorrow as it tracks southwest just off the
coast of the country, before hitting the South Island on
Severe weather warnings have been issued for Northland,
Auckland, Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne,
Nelson and Marlborough.
Northland could expect 80mm-100mm of rain by tomorrow
afternoon, MetService said.
The rain should spread quickly southwards, totalling more
than 100mm in Coromandel, Bay of Plenty and Gisborne by
Easterly gales will accompany the heavy rain, with gusts of
120km/h in Northland, Auckland and Coromandel Peninsula, and
130km/h west of the Kaimai Range.
An extra 26 firefighters and five fire engines have already
been sent to Kerikeri as an emergency back-up to support
local crews in the north in advance of the storm hitting.
The MetService watch also covered the possibility of severe
easterly gales about the Central Plateau and Nelson tomorrow.
Also in the upper South Island, Marlborough and Nelson look
set to receive the most intense rainfall, with up to 170mm
accumulating in the Nelson ranges from tomorrow afternoon
till noon on Sunday.
A watch was being maintained for areas just west of the main
ranges, including the Central Plateau, Ruahine and Richmond
Ranges, also the Tasman Mountains, which were likely to see
very gusty downslope winds.
"This will be a significant adverse weather event, affecting
large parts of northern and central New Zealand," MetService
"The heavy rain is likely to cause slips and surface
flooding, and the severe easterly gales could make driving
hazardous, lift roofs, and bring down trees and powerlines."
Coastal communities have been warned to watch out for swells
and storm surges, particularly around high tide, Civil
Defence cautioned. While boaties have been advised to secure
their boats ahead of the encroaching storm, and avoid going
out to sea over the weekend.
Motorists have also been advised to take extra care on the
roads, or stay indoors. A number of Auckland ferry services
have been cancelled.
Elsewhere, electricity companies have warned customers to be
prepared for the possibility of outages as a result of the
wild weather. It is advised people stay clear of downed power
lines or damaged electrical equipment , and call their
electricity provider immediately.
'Neighbour helping neighbour'
Auckland's coastal communities are being warned it's a case
of "neighbour helping neighbour" as Cyclone Lusi is expected
to move through the region tonight and tomorrow.
Residents in communities such as Orewa and Omaha are being
warned to prepare for power cuts and to avoid unnecessary
travel during the worst of the weather.
Two-metre swells are expected near beaches north of
Whangaparoa, with a risk of sand erosion and potential damage
to beachfront properties, says Auckland City Council.
At a briefing this afternoon, Council Civil Defence
controller Clive Manley said the council had been working
with coastal communities on a response plan, and would
provide resources to help them.
"[But] at a local level its neighbour helping neighbour."
If "relatively few" residents were displaced, accommodation
would be provided around Auckland, but if large-scale
evacuations were needed, the council would set up response
Council manager of planning and intelligence Richard Woods
said considerable swells were expected in the Hauraki Gulf
tomorrow morning, and would be strongest two hours either
side of high tide at 7.29am.
When it will hit
Cyclone Lusi is forecast to move out of the tropics today and
track west of the North Island tomorrow, before crossing the
South Island on Sunday, according to the latest MetService
MetService meteorologist Dan Corbett told Radio New Zealand
today would be relatively calm before a "dramatic change"
"As we work towards the end of the day we start to see the
effects, the outer bands, of this large mass of rain moving
into the Far North of the country by the afternoon and
"But it's tonight and into Saturday when the beast will
really show its fangs and teeth."
Most of the country would need to "batten down the hatches"
with heavy and potentially flooding rains, Mr Corbett told
Vector: Be ready for power cuts
Meanwhile, electricity company Vector has warned customers to
be prepared for the possibility of outages as a result of the
Chief executive Simon Mackenzie said stormy weather could be
very unpredictable and have a significant impact on the
"We do not expect too many issues but recommend that
customers always be prepared for the possibility of an outage
during inclement weather."
Vector's field crews had been put on alert and all efforts
would be made to respond to any outages as soon as possible.
However, crews would only work if it is safe for them to do
so, Mr Mackenzie said.
People using medical equipment that relies on electricity
should always ensure they were prepared for power disruptions
and if there is an immediate health threat, contact their
health provider or call 111.
Warning for boaties
Auckland boaties are being warned to secure boats today
before expected rough weather arrives this evening.
Strong winds and rough seas are anticipated, which can cause
boat moorings to break and result in boat damage and
Auckland harbourmaster Andrew Hayton said boat owners should
check the moorings of boats regularly to ensure they were
"The middle of a gale is not the time to be trying to secure
"Boats that break free from moorings can cause significant
damage to themselves and other vessels."
The Harbourmaster's team often picked up boats adrift during
bad weather but in more extreme weather it could be unsafe
for patrol vessels and crew to be on the water, he said.
Boat owners are responsible for making sure their boats were
* Stay clear of fallen power lines or damaged electrical
equipment and treat them as live at all times
* Ensure garden furniture and umbrellas are put away or tied
* Ensure trampolines are tied down
* Watch out for falling tree branches which can damage power
* Avoid possible damage to electrical appliances (in the
unlikely event there is a power surge when the power is
restored) by switching off appliances at the wall
* Keep a torch and spare batteries handy and ensure you have
at least one telephone that does not rely on electricity for
operation * Ensure an alternate fuel supply is available for
cooking (eg gas for barbecue)