Auckland is likely to be hit hard overnight by severe gales
that are already causing havoc further north.
Residents in northern New Zealand are being warned to expect
damage from the powerful storm bearing down on the upper part
of the country.
Hurricane force winds are already battering parts of
Northland, according to WeatherWatch, with reports of a boat
on to rocks at Pukenui in the Far North and unconfirmed
reports of a tree onto a house near Kawakawa and roofs
lifting in Kaitaia.
About 4800 homes are without power in the Far North after
strong winds brought down power lines across the district.
In Whangarei a tree took down a power line to Helena Bay
about 9am, taking out electricity to 698 homes. The power was
reconnected by 1pm, a Northpower spokesman said.
Northpower's linesmen had been sent home to rest ahead of an
expected heavy workload this evening and overnight as the
storm - which has brought winds of up to 160km/h in parts of
the Far North - was expected to hit Whangarei from about
Auckland Council and Civil Defence spokesman Nigel Horrocks
said the storm was expected to hit Auckland after midnight
and they were keeping a "watching brief" on its progress.
The New Zealand Transport Agency has reduced the speed limit
on Auckland Harbour Bridge from 80km/h to 70km/h and has
warned motorcyclists and drivers of high-sided vehicles to
avoid the bridge altogether if possible.
Spokesman Ewart Barnsley said gusts of more than 60km/h had
been recorded on the bridge today, with the wind forecast to
get stronger overnight.
"We would urge people to travel only if they have to and,
particularly on motorway lanes, to be aware of the vehicles
around them because of the impact wind gusts might have on
vehicle stability, and to lower their speed," Mr Barnsley
In rural parts of the country, especially during the night in
Auckland, Northland and areas that were not as well lit as
motorways, motorists should be aware of fallen trees and
No roads were closed at present but the NZTA was monitoring
its networks around the clock and staff were on standby in
case they were needed.
"As in the city, in the rural areas that same caution applies
in terms of lowering speed and expecting the unexpected," Mr
The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron this afternoon tweeted
an image of choppy seas in Auckland Harbour, with the warning
"Conditions worsening at RNZYS - Gusting 40 knots E. Stay off
Auckland Civil Defence also tweeted a picture of the sea from
Takapuna, saying "Conditions getting pretty choppy out in the
Gulf. Forecast to worsen as winds strengthen."
WeatherWatch said a low near northern New Zealand and a
strong high to its southeast were creating a squash zone of
severe gales over the upper North Island.
Head weather analyst Philip Duncan said winds would reach
gale force more often this afternoon in Northland and
Auckland and intensify during the night.
"It's going to be a very windy night for some parts of
Northland, Auckland, Coromandel Peninsula and Eastern Waikato
as this belt of gales moves slowly south".
The worst of the winds would stall over the Auckland and
Northland regions tomorrow, with the highest winds
expected somewhere between Whangarei and Auckland's northern
"Great Barrier Island, all of Coromandel Peninsula but
especially the northern half, and those near the western
Kaimai Ranges will also be exposed to damaging wind gusts
either tonight or on Wednesday".
WeatherWatch.co.nz said gusts may exceed 140km/h at some
remote weather stations but most populated places in the
firing line would face gusts between 100km/h and 130km/h.
"On top of the recent heavy rains in northern New Zealand the
soil is saturated and strong winds may topple trees easier"
Mr Duncan said.
"This may also lead to further isolated power cuts and hot
The wet, windy, nor'easter had similarites to the system that
ramped up last minute and caused wind damage last month.
"No two systems are exactly the same and this isn't a carbon
copy of the June nor'easter - but it is similar and so we
have similar advisories in place: Watch for very localised
but heavy downpours and winds hovering around damage
threshold from eastern Waikato northwards".
The Fire Service is working with other emergency agencies to
prepare for the impact of the storm.
A taskforce of 16 personnel, two fire appliances, a lighting
rig and four-wheel drive vehicle was sent to Northland to
support the local brigades and stations, the Fire Service
Region manager Assistant National Commander Brian Butt said
parts of Northland were often cut off by floods at Kawakawa
and in the Waipu-Ruakaka area.
"We are travelling up now while it is safe and in daylight,
to get ahead of the weather."
The appliances would be put where they were most needed and
would be crewed around the clock by volunteer and
professional personnel from Auckland and Northland.
Mr Butt said the Fire Service was working closely with Civil
Defence and other emergency services to assemble resources
and work on contingency plans for both Auckland and Northland