Weather: Heavy rain, wind warnings as Cyclone Fili approaches New Zealand – warnings for Bay of Plenty, Coromandel, Gisborne, Wairoa, Hawkes Bay

Heavy rain warnings are in place for North Island coastal areas today – including Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay – as the remnants of Cyclone Fili hit landfall.

There is a particular concern for the North Island’s east coast – Civil Defence in Gisborne is warning people to expect heavy rain, gale force winds and large swells.

A red, heavy-rain alert has been issued for Gisborne until 10pm Wednesday, with up to 300mm of rain expected. A red alert is also in place for Wairoa until 4am Thursday.

An orange heavy-rain and wind alert level has been issued for Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, Rotorua and other Hawke’s Bay areas through much of today.

Auckland is also under an orange heavy-wind alert – and a heavy-rain watch.

Tairāwhiti/Gisborne Civil Defence says people should stay home if they do not have to travel and move things away from low lying areas and river banks.

Fili is bearing down just three weeks after flooding on the east coast closed roads, broke bridges and inundated homes.

MetService has issued a red level rain warning for Gisborne and the Wairoa District with up to 300mm of rain expected to accumulate by Wednesday afternoon.

MetService meteorologist Peter Little said the rain was expected to start in Gisborne about 10pm on Tuesday.

“But the really heaviest rain is going to sort of get going during the overnight period and into [this] morning and even [this] afternoon is when we’re expecting the heaviest rain in places like Gisborne.”

The rain is expected to cause dangerous river conditions and significant flooding, with slips and floodwaters likely to disrupt travel making some roads impassable and potentially isolating communities.

Large northeast swells are expected to hit Bay of Plenty and Gisborne on Wednesday and early Thursday, with the risk of an abnormally high tide on Wednesday afternoon and into early evening.

MetService has put an orange level wind warning out for Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay and southeast Taupo, including parts of the Desert Road with gusts of up to 120km/h forecast in most places, but gusts of up to 140km/h likely east of Whakatāne.

Heavy rain is also expected in Bay of Plenty with MetService forecasting up to 120mm of rain mainly on Wednesday afternoon and evening.

Hawke’s Bay’s civil defence controller Ian Macdonald said an emergency co-ordination centre in Hastings had been set up, in preparation for the storm.

People living close to waterways or steep slopes in the Wairoa district should be ready to evacuate.

Gisborne District mayor Rehette Stoltz said they had been working non-stop since the last storm.

She said officials this week were balancing the recovery, with planning for the next deluge.

Wairoa Mayor Craig Little said some farmland in the district had only dried up in the past few days and some roads are still down to one lane after they were damaged during the last bout of flooding.

He hopes the storm heads further east than forecast, and out to sea.

Tairāwhiti farmer Sam Hain said there was only so much that could be done to prepare for a storm like Fili.

He farms sheep and beef about 50km west of Gisborne and on Tuesday had his chainsaw ready to cut up trees and the fork is on his tractor ready to clear the roads.

But he said being out there during the storm actually caused damage rather than preventing it.

“Driving around … all you do is, all the stock run to the gate hoping they’re going to get shifted and you just create mud.

“So it’s actually a bit of a stand-back-and-wait sort of attitude, whereby you wait for the rain to pass and damage to be done and then we just go out and clear culverts and assess the damage.”

Hain said it was important that farmers talked to each other for support as the storm passed through. – Staff reporters and RNZ

Source: Read Full Article