Rain forecast sparks warning

A "lump of moist weather" may finally arrive in drought-stricken Northland at the weekend.

But the forecast has sparked a warning from police and transport officials about dangerously slippery roads.

MetService media and communications meteorologist Daniel Corbett said a lump of moist weather from ex-Tropical Cyclone Sandra is predicted to hit Northland on late Saturday or Sunday.

Mr Corbett said the downpour is unlikely to be enough to break the region's drought, but it's likely to be the heaviest rainfall since mid-January.

"Fingers crossed that it does actually come, and all the indications are that it will. It's likely to be at least 10-20mm, and the most significant rain up there for a while," he said.

More details on potential rainfall would be known tomorrow. Mr Corbett said if rainfall was heavier than 50mm it could cause surface flooding, particularly in especially dry areas.

Northland police highway patrol acting manager Sergeant Lance Goulsbro said rain after a long, dry spell made the roads slippery and potentially dangerous for unsuspecting motorists.

"The roads will definitely be more greasy after rain as it brings the oil up to the surface, so it's good to remind people now that they will need to slow down and drive more carefully. It's no use telling them after it rains," Mr Goulsbro said.

He said the hot weather had also brought tar up to the surface in some places and rain on those spots could be dangerous.

"People will need to slow down and increase their gap between the vehicle in front to give themselves more time to stop if they need to," Mr Goulsbro said.

NZ Transport Agency director for Auckland and Northland, Stephen Town, said people would need to take care on wet highways and roads.

"All summer long, dust, dirt, oil and other debris builds up on the surface and when it rains, those ingredients combine and get stirred up to make driving conditions slippery and dangerous. Conditions are at the worst in the first few hours of rain, and light rain is more of a challenge than a heavy downpour."

He said one of the most common causes of a wet weather crash was driving too fast for the conditions.

- Mike Dinsdale of the Northern Advocate

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