Storms, Upper North Island

Heavy or torrential rain with damaging winds expected in Northland. Heavy rain and strong winds expected in Auckland and Coromandel Peninsula. Strong winds expected on Hauraki Plains. Gisborne may experience southeast gales and significant rain on Wednesday.

New Zealand’s Meteorological Service has issued weather warnings for several North Island locations through its funding arrangement with the New Zealand Government.

A website release at 8:24 this morning (10th July 2007) stated: “MetService is expecting a low over the north Tasman Sea to deepen and move close to Northland today. This low is forecast to bring a period of heavy or even torrential rain to the top of the North Island, together with potentially damaging winds. Up to 250mm of rain could fall in parts of Northland from this morning through to Wednesday morning, especially about the central and eastern hills. Northern Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula are likely to receive between 100 and 150mm of rain from late this morning through to Wednesday afternoon”.

Parts of Northland experienced sudden floods in March, damaging bridges and several roads, and threatening the historic Stone Store (New Zealand’s oldest stone structure) at Kerikeri. Rebuilding of damaged infrastucture is not yet complete.

By mid-morning, flooding had occurred at Kaeo in Northland, where 123 mm of rain has been reported. Hansen Products’ weather station in Whangarei reported 62.5 mm of rain to 11 a.m. The private weather station at Dargaville reported 30.6 mm of rain to 11:15 a.m. and 26 mm has been reported at Mangawhai Heads.

The Northland Regional Council reports that the Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management Group has been activated to monitor the situation as it develops today. A media release this morning highlighted several locations where flooding is anticipated if rainfall reaches predicted levels. The Waipapa (currently 4 m above normal), Kerikeri, Kawakawa, Whakapara and Waiotu Rivers were likely to cause road closures if they rise to flood levels during afternoon rain. High tide is expected just before 4 p.m.

Road closure lists for districts are already showing closures or limited access due to flooding, slips and trees down. New Zealand Post has advised that there will be restricted or no mail deliveries in the area from Waipu to Kaitaia today, Tuesday, as they expect conditions to worsen.

By midday, it seemed that the Northland town of Kaeo had borne the brunt of the expected heavy rainfall, and the town was cut off by surface flooding on State Highway 10 to the north and south. Rainfall of 171 mm had been recorded at Kaeo in the 11 hours since midnight.

The latest media release by the Northland Regional Council reports wisespread flooding, slips, weather-related power cuts, and sewerage overflows at several locations in the area known as The Far North which is managed by the Far North District Council.

At Mangamuka, south of Kaitaia, 86.5 mm of rain has been reported to 10:30 this morning. State Highway 1 is flooded near Hikurangi in the Whangarei District, but still passable. The Regional Council now expects the flood event to be worse than that which occurred in March.

As the low pressure system moves across the upper North Island, it is expected to bring heavy rain and strong winds to Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula. The Hauraki Plains are expected to experience strong winds and, depnding on the path the weather system follows, Gisborne could receive heavy rain and gale winds tomorrow.

[Sources: MetService government-funded weather warnings; Northland Regional Council;
private weather stations at Mangawhai Heads, Dargaville and Hansen Products (NZ) Ltd, (Whangarei).]

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