Christchurch braces for 'mean and ugly' storm

An already saturated Christchurch is putting emergency precautions in place ahead of this weekend's storm.

What remains of severe Tropical Cyclone Lusi is expected to reach northern New Zealand early in the weekend, bringing heavy rain and potentially damaging winds, before it moves south.

Christchurch City Council, Civil Defence and key agencies have been working to prepare for the storm, Mayor Lianne Dalziel said.

The city's stormwater and drainage systems have already been checked, and emergency responses are being put in place.

"This is a situation where if we prepare for the worst case scenario, we will be ready for what may come. I'd much rather we put too many precautions in place than not enough," she said.

Parts of the city suffered severe flooding after heavy rain last week.

Ms Dalziel said councillors and community board members had been briefed by Civil Defence, and would be getting more technical advice about preparations later today.

"We are also calling on communities and individuals to prepare as best they can for the forecast rain.

"We will have more information for people on our preparations and precautions ahead of Sunday. This will help community groups and residents across the city prepare."

Christchurch residents needed to be extra wary of the storm conditions, Metservice spokesman Dan Corbett said.

"They'll get into a time of persistent rain over eastern parts of the South Island. We've already had discussions with the council because of all the flooding in the last week or so."

The Fiji Meteorological Service has now upgraded the cyclone to category 3, with winds between 120 and 160km/h. Lusi is currently southwest of Fiji, and on track to reach here late on Friday or early Saturday.

"It's looking like quite a mean and ugly storm," Mr Corbett said.

He said Lusi would move south over the next 24 to 48 hours, starting to weaken as it moves into cooler water.

It will reach Northland, Auckland and Coromandel first, bringing strong to severe gales and heavy rain.

The weather system will then move down the country, with the worst weather in the South Island expected late Saturday night or in the early hours of Sunday.


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