Northland Floods

Emergency declared in Far North district. Kaeo worst hit, rainfall greater than in March flood event. Whangarei city now experiencing flooding. Auckland experiencing storm.

A state of Civil Emergency was declared in New Zealand’s Far North district at 4:30 this afternoon (Tuesday 10th July 2007) owing to strong winds and flooding being experienced throughout the Northland region.

The Northland town of Kaeo remains cut off by floodwaters this evening, with many of the business premises flooded by up to a metre of water. The Northland Regional Council has released rainfall figures for Kaeo, showing that about 213 mm fell during the first 12 hours of the event, exceeding the 179.5 mm which fell during the first 12 hours of the March 29th flood. Rain continued as the day progressed, and 253.5 mm fell in the 15 hours to 3 p.m. More rain is expected.

Local authorities say this storm event is now affecting a greater area than the March event which caused most damage in eastern areas around the Bay of Islands.

Parts of Whangarei city and areas inland are without electricity as the area feels the effects of the storm. 89.5 mm of rain was recorded at a council weather station in Whangarei between midnight and 2:40 this afternoon.

A private weather station at Hansen products in Whangarei which had recorded 62.5 mm of rain to 11 a.m. was reporting a staggering 333 mm by 5 o’clock this evening, and a maximum wind gust of 110 km/h at 4:23 p.m. The sudden disappearance of wind data just before 5 o’clock indicated that the anemometer, which measures wind data, may have failed. However, it looks like the weather server was rebooted at about 6:30 tonight, and it is thought that wind gusts may have been rocking the mechanism inside the rain gauge, causing an excessively high rainfall reading.

Civil Defence in Whangarei indicate that there is a growing backlog of incidents such as clashing power lines, lifting rooves, minor building damage and vehicle evacuations, but volunteers will continue responding to events through the night.

Power is off in many parts of Northland, and restoration is unlikely until the wind eases.

As forecast, Auckland is now experiencing the effects of the storm. Two motocyclists were blown off bikes on the Auckland Harbour Bridge this evening. Fallen trees are causing delays on some commuter rail services and many harbour ferry services have been cancelled due to high winds. Power outages have been experienced at Wellsford, Waiheke Island and other locations.

As evening closes in, reports are coming in from the Coromandel Peninsula of power outages as the effects of the storm reach further east.

MetService is continuing to forecast up to 100 mm of rain for areas south of Whangarei and north of Orewa overnight, with up to 150 mm for Coromandel overnight. It is thought that up to 70 mm may fall in areas north of the Bay of Islands as conditions ease. Severe easterly gales up to 140 km/h should ease in Northland overnight, but winds should intensify over Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula. Parts of the Hauraki Plains are expected to experience strong easterlies tomorrow. MetService have been stunningly accurate with their forecasting of this event, and people in the areas affected are urged to check regularly with the MetService website.

[Sources: Northland Regional Council, MetService government-funded weather warnings, NZ Weather Forum, private weather station at Hansen Products (NZ) Ltd, (Whangarei).]

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