Weather: Northland hit by downpour and gusts, 100kph winds may close Harbour Bridge as storm arrives
- Heavy rain has begun to fall in Northland, with wind gusts of 95kph reported.
- Bus and ferry services in Auckland likely to be delayed on Tuesday morning due to wind gusts.
- More than 40 weather warnings for rain, snow and wind have been issued across the country.
- Severe weather is forecast overnight and into Tuesday morning.
Bad weather that is likely to cover most of the country began overnight, with downpours and wind gusts of 95kph in Northland.
MetService has issued more than 40 weather warnings nationwide, through until Tuesday afternoon.
Northland was currently being hit by heavy rain and strong winds, MetService forecaster Aidan Pyselman said, but it was “just the start” of the bad weather.
Pyselman said the heavy rain and wind was moving south down the country, and Auckland could expect wind gusts of 110kph overnight.
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MetService has issued a high wind warning for Auckland’s Harbour Bridge on Tuesday morning, which could potentially impact morning commuters.
Auckland Transport (AT) asked bus and ferry commuters in the city to consider delaying Tuesday morning travel due to the high wind.
AT real time and response manager Rachel Cara said even if there wasn’t a full closure of the Harbour Bridge, bus services could still be affected by precautions put in place.
“When wind reach the sorts of levels we’re expecting tomorrow morning we expect to see disruptions to our Northern Express services, along with buses travelling from Glenfield, Beach Haven and Takapuna.
“We also ask ferry passengers to check to see whether their services are still running as usual, as ferry operators often cancel trips or replace them by road depending on conditions.”
Bay of Plenty, Rotorua and Mount Taranaki could expect up to 120mm of rain from 10pm on Monday at a peak rate of 25mm per hour, and in Gisborne, there would be up to 150mm at peak rate of 30mm per hour from 8pm, MetService said.
Marlborough including Kaikoura Coast should expect up to 140mm of rain at a peak rate of 25mm per hour from 3am, and there are snow warnings for South Canterbury, North and Central Otago and some of the higher passes.
Meteorologist Lewis Ferris said the intensity would pick up overnight and into Tuesday, but the good news was the storm would move through pretty quickly. The bad news was that because the rainfall would be so intense, it might cause damage.
“In the last seven days we’ve already seen two weather systems move over the country, so soils are going to be sodden,” he said.
“With the next bout of heavy rain and strong winds there is the potential for impacts to happen faster – such as slips, or trees coming down, or the risk of power cuts with the wind and rain together.”
While the rain was likely to ease Wednesday, there was more rain forecast to hit from the north on Thursday and Friday, he said.
“It’s not a perfect start to the school holidays,” Ferris said. “The goal for the week will be to keep the kids happy inside.”
Civil Defence is urging people not to report surface flooding and to leave the line open for people who need help, as the severe weather worsens.
Christchurch City Council Civil Defence and Emergency Management manager Brenden Winder said roads would cope with water ponding on them, and it would drain away once the rain stops.
“Forecasts for Tuesday suggest that we could get up to 125 millimetres of rain on Banks Peninsula and 50 to 75 millimetres of rain in Christchurch and the Port Hills,” he said. “The heavy rain will coincide with higher than normal tides, so it is likely that we will get some flooding in low-lying coastal areas and around the rivers.”
Winder said Canterbury Civil Defence was taking “the usual precautions” to minimise flooding, and had staff and contractors ready to respond, but people in areas prone to flooding should start preparing, and people on the hills should be aware of the risks of slips.
“Conditions are likely to be worse on Banks Peninsula than in the city. Strong winds will accompany the rain on the Banks Peninsula and higher areas may even get some snow,” he said.
“If you have to drive through ponded water, please go as slowly as possible so that you don’t push water onto people’s property and cause damage.”
There have been power outages reported in Te Atatū Peninsula, West Auckland, according to Vector Power’s outage map, but it wasn’t confirmed whether this was related to the bad weather.
Unplanned power outages were also in the Waikato in Whitianga, Paeroa and Te Aroha.
The storm is set to contain an atmospheric river – a long, thin storm systems, typically five times longer than they are wide, and capable of bringing twice the rainfall of a normal storm.