Your web browser (Internet Explorer) is out of date. Some things will not look right and things might not work properly. Please download an up-to-date and free browser from here.

Sub-tropical storm moves south

Send us your photos! 

Have photos of Saturday’s stormy weather?  Flood pictures, storm damage, rough seas?  Send them through to us!  Use the Upload Your Photos link.

FINAL UPDATE FOR THIS EVENT:  Issued 5:30pm Saturday

To read all current weather warnings click here.

Rain warnings have been lifted from Auckland after an almost completely dry afternoon.  Despite torrential rain falling north, east and south of the city the rain bands managed not to return following a stormy night.  Residents along Auckland’s east coast suburbs were blasted by winds up to 110km/h and around 30mm of rain fell across the city.  However by mid morning the rain eased back considerably and never really returned.  As of 5:30 the skies were starting to brighten up. 

Heading into Saturday night eyes remain focused on the frontal band moving into the Bay of Plenty and East Cape tonight. head weather analyst Philip Duncan says people should stay clear of streams and rivers from the Kaimai Ranges to Gisborne and Hawkes Bay.  “Very heavy rain is falling up in the ranges and we expect torrential rain even at sea level for a time.  People in these areas should remain up to date with the weather conditions and be prepared for potential floods, slips and powercuts”.

In Hicks Bay rainfall rates are currently around 31mm/h and estimates rainfall rates at least twice that up in the ranges.  “In one hour Hicks Bay will get what Auckland got all last night and this morning”.

In the southern part of the North Island gales have blown down trees and knocked out powerlines near Levin as the strong winds that blasted northern New Zealand this morning move south.   Last hour easterly winds gusted to 90km/h in Levin with gusts to 80km/h in Palmerston North and 70km/h in New Plymouth.

Earlier today the wind gusted to around 120km/h in the eastern Waikato town of Te Aroha, blowing in windows and cutting power for up to 2 hours for some residents.  According to locals the fire brigade was kept busy with many callouts.

Humidity levels in Auckland are high with a ‘feels like’ temperature around 30 degrees according to the Weather Watch Centre’s humidex calculation but it’s a different story in the South Island’s east.  Wet, cool, easterlies are keeping temperatures around 14 in Christchurch, however Westport over on the West Coast is on a warm 23 as the easterlies cause a reverse nor’wester effect.  The easterlies are gusting around 60km/h on the West Coast and Mr Duncan says winds will increase there as they move away from Levin this evening.

To read earlier stories click “Read More” below. head weather analyst Philip Duncan says this “stream of saturated air” is just to the east of Auckland and is feed directly into the Bay of Plenty.  “I would say there’s a high chance of surface flooding and the risk for more substantial flooding and slips is certainly increasing by the hour”.

Tauranga has received heavy rain since early this morning and the northern rain radar shows no let up anytime soon.  “This is likely to last for much of tonight through the Bay of Plenty” says Mr Duncan.  “Farmers and locals should stay well clear of streams and rivers.  This is a dangerous rainband and rivers may rise very quickly”.

Elsewhere and rain is still falling over Hawkes Bay, a relief for farmers who have had months of dry weather.  Rain is also spreading into Canterbury as the low moves further south towards the South Island.

The Weather Watch Centre’s independent forecasts for Auckland says the afternoon should remain overcast with a few spots of rain but heavier rain may still return.  “The band of rain that should be drenching Auckland is only just offshore to the east.  It’s incredibly close which is why the clouds are so dark and it has the feeling like it’s going to rain.”  He says rain clouds are coming to life around the city but so far they are mostly avoiding the populated areas. 

Earlier story:

Some people are calling today’s storm a fizzer in Auckland as rain becomes light and doesn’t live up to the warnings issued yesterday and today.

The Auckland region isn’t out of the woods yet either with possibly heavy falls redeveloping this evening on the back end of this system. 

Heavy rain has fallen all around Auckland but the nation’s largest city has so far missed the worst.  Rain was heavy enough to cause flooding in Northland with reports that over 150mm fell in some places.  Similar high numbers have been reported in the Coromandel.

Eastern Waikato has also had some solid rain today.

“For those wanting a big storm I guess Auckland has, so far, been a bit of a fizzer.  To emergency services and everyone else it’s good news that the city has so far been spared the heaviest stuff, but it’s not over yet.  Rain bands are still gathering around Auckland” says Philip Duncan, head weather analyst.

Mr Duncan says rain is likely to be “a bit off and on” this afternoon with the potential for heavier rain again later.  “Systems like this are very frustrating for us at the Weather Watch Centre.  We can see heavy rain all around Auckland but due to its current set up its not yet moving over the city.  One small shift to the west could make a big difference so the warnings are definitely still valid”.

In the past 30 minutes the Auckland rain radar has shown an increase in rain activity just north of Auckland.

Mr Duncan says the rain warnings are especially valid in the rural areas.  “Aucklanders don’t really have to worry about the rain as much as those in Northland, Coromandel and Bay of Plenty.   These other regions are more prone to dangerous and widespread flooding.  We want people to listen to the warnings and stay well away from streams and rivers today – torrential rain is still falling in the hills and may become widespread again this afternoon or evening”.

MetService still has a rain warning for Auckland expecting heavy rain to continue until about 9pm tonight. 

“This isn’t a clearly defined storm when you look at the satellite map.  The rain bands are all fragmented making it tricky to pinpoint where the heavy rain will set in.  At this stage the Auckland area is just to the west of the heavier rain and it looks like Eastern Waikato/Coromandel over to East Cape/Gisborne will be in the firing line”.

Aucklanders should stay up to date with the latest forecasts as conditions remain unstable with all the right ingredients to make torrential rain.

“Our number one concern is for public safety – last year too many people died from flooded rivers and this year we want people to know to stay away from rivers and streams on days like this, even if conditions at home don’t seem that bad”. 

Mr Duncan says winds gusted to 120km/h in Northland last night and up to 110km/h in the Hauraki Gulf.  The Weather Watch Centre’s independent Auckland forecasts says winds will now ease but says rain is the main feature and may cause surface flooding.  “Wind may cause minor issues around Auckland, which we’ve seen already, but it’s really the rain that could cause headaches. While conditions have eased this morning we’re seeing some big rain clouds forming north of Northland which have yet to move down”. 

A few flashes of lightning appeared over Auckland and Northland late last night with more isolated thunderstorms possible this afternoon.


Flooding has been reported in the Northland town of Kaeo.Inspector Anthony Edwards from the New Zealand Police says roading north of the State Highway 10 intersection and  Whangaroa Road has suffered flooding overnight.

“Presently only 4WD vehicles and trucks are able to pass through the affected area. The water appears to still be rising and motorists are advised to avoid travel to the township unless in a suitable vehicle or on urgent business”.

Tropical conditions remain over the north with humidity close to 100% and temperatures in the low 20s already.

Reports of power cuts have been reported to in Northland, Auckland and Eastern Waikato as stormy conditions set in.

In the eastern Waikato town of Te Aroha strong winds, estimated to be up to 110km/h, have caused little damage. Small branches have been broken off trees and according to comments posted at the fire service has been kept busy this morning. A report also came in of a power outage lasting nearly 2 hours. believes the winds are probably peaking now and should start to ease later this morning or early afternoon. The storm had the potential to bring even stronger winds however the low is tracking further west than initially expected.

Mr Duncan says heavy rain is likely to last across the northern half of the North Island until the early hours of Sunday morning.

As of 10am TAURANGA had the highest rainfall rate at 9 mm/hr.

Hawkes Bay is also receiving solid rainfall this morning, great news for farmers in the area and rain is now moving into the lower North Island.


What are the conditions where you are right now?  Have you seen any flooding or storm damage?  Or is it calm where you are?   Please post a comment below!

How to get


Click “Read More” for full details…

The track of the sub-tropical low… the pale blue indicates regions to get heavy rain… the entire North Island and upper South Island.

Graphic: David Shirley /

Auckland Civil Defence is telling people to stay home and batten down the hatches this weekend.

MetService has issued a severe weather warning for northern New Zealand for tonight and Saturday.

Civil Defence regional emergency management controller Harry O’Rourke says people should exercise caution if they do need to go out. He says they should check conditions, keep their headlights on and keep a safe distance from the car in front.

Mr O’Rourke says people should clear drains and spouting, plus secure rubbish bins, trampolines and anything else that could fly off in strong winds. He also advises people to have a torch, radio and spare batteries at hand.

SEVERAL RAIN AND GALE WARNINGS have been issued across northern New Zealand by the government’s forecaster, MetService.  These warnings can be found in full here.

Auckland is now officially in the firing line with rains heavy enough to cause surface flooding and winds strong enough to make driving hazardous and possibly bring down trees in the east.  Head weather analyst Philip Duncan says it isn’t common for Auckland to get such a heavy rain warning.  “While Auckland gets the odd rain warning they aren’t as common as say Northland or Bay of Plenty.   With strong winds blowing leaves off trees combined with torrential rain there’s definitely the potential for serious surface flooding across roads and properties”.

Mr Duncan says winds may gust up to 100km/h across the city tomorrow with MetService warning winds of 120km/h are possible in some exposed parts.

Torrential rain in the Coromandel Peninsula may cause serious flooding and advises people in the area to take extreme care near rivers and streams.  “MetService is warning up to 250mm of rain in the ranges, and previous storms have seen numbers much higher than that – this is definitely a storm to watch”.

“This sub-tropical low is laden with tropical moisture and those in the northern half of the North Island should be well aware of rapidly rising streams.  Strong currents can sweep you away in a heartbeat”.

Last year a number of people were killed by flooded rivers despite weather warnings.

Heavy rain in the Coromandel and Kaimai ranges may spill over into eastern Waikato Hauraki Plains/Thames and Maramarua farms.  Philip Duncan says farmers are advised to watch river levels and be prepared to move stock if needed.

Motorists across the upper North Island are also being advised to be aware of the extreme weather.  “High winds on Auckland’s harbour bridge and exposed roads from Northland to Bay of Plenty will be the main areas of concern wind-wise, heavy rain may cause rivers to flood roads or cause surface flooding from Northland to Waikato and Bay of Plenty”.

Mr Duncan expects MetService to issued more weather warnings today or tonight for regions further south.

Severe gales are increasingly likely about the eastern Waikato, particularly the tourist town of Te Aroha.  “Gusts here may reach 140km/h” says Mr Duncan.  “Winds this strong can blow over poorly built barns, uproot trees and lift roofing iron”.

Meanwhile gales are also possible near the western slopes of the main ranges from Taihape to Palmerston North to Kapiti.  Wind damage in these areas is possible especially to weak barns, trees and powerlines. 

Mr Duncan says conditions out at sea are likely to be very rough with low visibility on Saturday around Northland, Auckland and Bay of Plenty with gales likely and large swells developing. “There are a number of marine events happening this weekend and we’re seriously advising boaties to be aware of current gale warnings. Saturday is especially looking nasty with strong easterlies then strong winds from the west possible on Sunday”.

Latest computer models now show the low tracking down the west coast of the country, which increases the chances of heavy rain over Northland, Coromandel and Bay of Plenty and now possibly Auckland.  Mr Duncan says the heaviest rain is usually in the south eastern corner of a sub-tropical low and with the low out west that puts the main rain band over those regions.

Dry farms that missed out on last weeks rain are still likely to get a good drenching this weekend.  “The rain storm created by ex tropical cyclone Innis last week came down well to the west of New Zealand, meaning the heaviest rain failed to reach Gisborne and Hawkes Bay.  The centre of this low should pass very near these dry areas so the chances of a drenching are much higher”.

“Northland, Coromandel Peninsula and Bay of Plenty will likely be the highest risk areas for any flooding with East Cape also exposed to heavy rain which may cause slips”. 

MetService describes the predicted low as a “significant weather system” in their Thursday afternoon Severe Weather Outlook.

Philip Duncan describes the low as a wet and tropical end to Summer. “Summer officially ends on Saturday and that’s when we expect this storm to peak over most northern regions. Heavy rain, high humidity and temperatures in the late 20s are all expected. Summer will end on a wet, tropical, note”.


JohnGaul on 28/02/2009 7:54am

Becoming quite windy from the east to SE here at the moment with drizzly showers continuing.
4.3mm from 3pm to 6pm today.


David on 28/02/2009 7:02am

Fresh to strong ENE; 14deg; occ light dz/ra; rainfall total for the day 3mm; 1012.8mb/hpa

Pippi on 28/02/2009 6:43am

Not much out of the norm here, good steady rain overnight, we had 36mm rain. winds are blowing but we’ve had worse, everthing has since died right down, my husband did notice a bit of thunder towards the mountain while milking this afternoon. (Opunake, South Taranaki).

David on 28/02/2009 4:11am

Freshening ENE breeze; temp 14.5deg; total rainfall since rain commenced today 2.5mm; 1014.5mb/hpa ( barometer reset since last observation) falling very slightly.


Roger on 28/02/2009 2:52am

Winds have now backed of still the odd gust but now getting heavy rain looks like its setting in

Guest on 28/02/2009 2:11am

Hi Phil,

Rain set in here in New Brighton 14.40…we have had 1mm of rain and currently falling at the rate of 3mm/hr. Temp is 15 deg with a moderate to fresh Northeasterlie breeze. Pressure showing a slight fall in the last hour at 1019.5mb/hpa


Carly on 28/02/2009 1:10am

…. well I nearly had some great video that I could have uploaded…. until I got home, tried to turn my phone on to send them to my email… and found that the water had seeped into my phone and killed it 🙁 !!!! ooops

Anyway, the sea was just churning and crashing over the sea wall like crazy this morning, it was great to walk on Tamaki Drive, I got totally soaked but it was certainly an adventure!

WW Forecast Team on 28/02/2009 12:41am

A post made to the site: "Have had over 180 mm here in Waihi from in the last 18 hours".

Derek on 27/02/2009 11:57pm

We seem to have been lucky in most parts of Whangarei, some areas of the city got more than others, more of the outlying areas it seems.

Although we had some heavy rain and wind during the evening and night it was probably just a normal type scenario here. No signs of flooding or wind damage so i guess we have been lucky so far and have got off quite light.

See from satelite map and your reports that we may get some heavy rain later on, quite calm, humid and tropically warm right now.

Baro pressure is rising, was 1001hPa about 8am but now at 1004.Temp of 21, humidity of 83%.

Andrew on 27/02/2009 11:26pm

Hi Phil well here the rain is pretending to stop and the wind has died down quite a bit. The rain is really light but hoping it will set in again….
So far since 7pm Friday till midday today we have had 33mm…


View more comments

Related Articles