Gales gusting 140km/h continue to tear through exposed parts of the Far North and Hauraki Gulf tonight with wind cutting power to thousands, bringing down trees and heavy rain flooding rivers…
During Saturday afternoon the low stopped track south eastwards and turned eastwards sparing Auckland severe winds. Gales reached as far south as Whangaparaoa by 11:30pm but still hadn’t made it into the central city. Gales were also affecting the eastern Waikato towns of Paeroa and, to a greater extent, Te Aroha.
Conditions have dramatically gone downhill tonight in Northland as a sub-tropical storm inches towards New Zealand. Winds gusting 130km/h have hit the Far North with gale force winds now spreading across Northland. The Whangarei Fire Brigade has reported some minor flooding however their main focus has been on fallen trees.
Power has also been cut to thousands on the Coromandel Peninsula.
But it’s the flood prone town of Kaeo that may well feel the force force of this storm with the local river flooding the lower plains already. Flood waters are tonight literally lapping at the front step of the Fire Station with a fire officer telling WeatherWatch.co.nz that when the flood waters reach the second step that’s a sign of serious flooding.
The Kaeo Fire Brigade also reported to WeatherWatch.co.nz that they’ve lost power and head weather analyst Philip Duncan says the wind damage and flooding poses a serious concern tonight. “While we expect the rain to ease around Kaeo in the next hour or so it is likely to return again after midnight, possibly even heavier than before. The easing of rain will also be too late for tonight’s high tide which is in the next hour around eastern parts of Northland and that could cause problems from northern Auckland right up to the Far North”.
As of 10:30pm winds at Cape Reinga were equal to a Category 2 cyclone with sustained winds of 74km/h and gusts to 133km/h. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology describes the effects of a Category 2 cyclone as “Minor house damage. Significant damage to signs, trees and caravans. Heavy damage to some crops. Risk of power failure. Small boats may break moorings”. Mr Duncan says this is what we’re seeing in Northland tonight.
“Another issue is the fact that this system slowed down earlier than we thought – that could bring prolonged wind and rain all night to some northern regions” says Duncan.
Trees have also come down around Kaeo and further north in Mangonui.
Gales are now also hammering Whangaparaoa north of Auckland. Winds are averaging 67km/h with estimates that gusts are reaching over 120km/h in exposed parts. Winds are gusting to 140km/h out on the Hauraki Gulf this hour.
In Auckland city heavy rain has set in but should ease by midnight with heavy bands returning overnight. Winds are gusting to 80km/h in exposed places and are near gale force along the eastern coastline.
The Fire Brigade in the eastern Waikato town of Te Aroha reports strong winds but as of 10pm no reports of damage. Locals describe the winds as sounding like a freight train.
Thousands without power
Thousands of customers in the townships of Coromandel and Whitianga are without power tonight.
Powerco network operations manager Phil Marsh says high winds damaged the 66,000-volt lines supplying the Whitianga substation around eight o’clock.
There were reports of winds reaching 160 kilometres an hour.
Field crews are out looking for the fault but may have to return to base if it is not safe for them.
Mr Marsh says it is likely power will be off overnight.
It affects about 9,500 consumers.
Earlier update – 8:30pm
Mr Duncan says the air pressure gradient between Auckland and Cape Reinga is extreme which means the strong winds will continue to push south as the low moves slowly towards northern New Zealand.
Rain has now become heavy over much of Northland and will shortly intensify over Auckland city. After light to moderate rain for much of the day, big seas, and a storm surge (as the air pressure lowers) coastal flooding – especially in Northland – could become a serious concern.
Head weather analyst Philip Duncan says it’s meant the winds are taking their time to become widespread. “We’re starting to see new regions receiving gales. Te Aroha and Paeroa in the eastern Waikato have gales with winds gusting 90km/h in Paeroa and estimates of gusts over 120km/h in Te Aroha. Gusts over 132km/h are being recorded in the Hauraki Gulf and up to 120km/h at Cape Reinga”.
“It’s very normal with intense lows like this to see them jogging in a different direction for a short time. We see it with cyclones and the winds associated with this system put it around a category 1 cyclone, so they’re similar in that aspect. I’d imagine it will continue it’s south east track again later this evening meaning strong winds will spread further south and west”.
Winds are near gale force in Whangarei with gusts to 80km/h.
Reports have also come in to WeatherWatch.co.nz of big seas at Orewa.
In Auckland conditions still remain relatively calm. “It’s really been quite underwhelming across Auckland today” says Philip Duncan. “Winds haven’t really gone above 80km/h and the gales have remained just offshore and just north of the city”.
But Mr Duncan says it’s not over yet. “Gale force winds are now blasting Whangaparaoa and we expect gales to move in to eastern and northern parts of Auckland tonight”.
No reports of powercuts have come through however power surges are being reported in both Northland and Eastern Waikato.
Earlier update: 6pm
Gales averaging 110km/h and gusting to 130km/h are blasting the islands east of Whangarei and out in the Hauraki Gulf with gales spreading down Northland tonight too. Winds are gusting to 130km/h in Cape Reinga and 80km/h in Whangarei.
WeatherWatch.co.nz says the strongest winds will now be moving into northern New Zealand with places like Auckland expected to see the strongest winds arriving later this evening and overnight.
“The gales are arriving a little later than we thought but the storm is still on track. We doubt there’ll be much damage in Auckland but powercuts are a possibility and a few trees may also come down” says head weather analyst Philip Duncan. “It’s always very hard to pin point wind in places like Northland and Auckland with systems like this – northern New Zealand is very narrow and the low is coming from the north so a slight change of track can have a significant affect on the weather”.
Steady rain has set in across Auckland and Northland with heaviest falls in eastern parts of Northland. The rain is expected to get heavier tonight with flooding “quite likely” in Northland and “possible” in Auckland.
Earlier Update (4:30pm)
In Auckland winds are gusting close to 70km/h for suburbs along the eastern coastline and are nearing gale force as the afternoon continues. It’s a cold afternoon in Auckland with just 10 degrees and light rain.
The boats moored at Algies Bay are bouncing about, while breakers run up the beach. No boats have come ashore yet. — taken 15:35, Algies Bay, Warkworth. Image / Jenny Mespel.
Head weather analyst Philip Duncan says the low is still a long way off shore, roughly 600kms north west of Cape Reinga. “By midnight the storm should be just a couple of hundred kilometres north of Cape Reinga however is expected to slow down, increasing the risk of flooding to Northland as rain bands set in”.
Gales should peak tonight and during Sunday morning for most regions.
Earlier Story (12:30pm update)
WeatherWatch.co.nz predicts the easterly gales won’t arrive until late this afternoon or evening in Auckland and estimates that damage is unlikely to be widespread. Head weather analyst Philip Duncan says power cuts could be a an issue from eastern Waikato right up to the Far North. “With winds strong enough to break branches and bring down trees powercuts will be quite possible across the upper North Island. Residents in areas where weather warnings have been issued should be prepared in case of black outs”.
Gusty winds are also being reported in the eastern Waikato town of Te Aroha late this morning.
Earlier update (10:35am, Saturday)
For all current weather warnings click here.
Rain and wind move into Mangonui, Northland, this morning. Image / Northlandweathernz
Head weather analyst Philip Duncan says overnight the computer models, which predict the depth and tracking of air pressure systems, backed off just a little from the previous update. “While it’s only a small difference it does perhaps indicate that the worst of the wind may remain in Northland and not be quite as severe as initially thought further south. In saying that we still expect damaging winds as far south as eastern Waikato and MetService has a number of wind warnings out”.
Mr Duncan says WeatherWatch.co.nz will have regular updates from this afternoon as the low moves closer. “We’ll have a better feel for what is happening wind-wise once the low gets closer and the weather maps are at their most accurate”.
WeatherWatch.co.nz says the worst of the winds will likely be from the Far North along the eastern coastline to Whangaparaoa. Other areas also exposed to damaging wind gusts will be the North Shore, eastern parts of Auckland, Great Barrier Island, Waiheke Island, and the western side of the Coromandel and Kaimai ranges including Thames, Paeroa and Te Aroha.
Heavy rain would affect similar regions however were more likely to affect the eastern side of Coromandel and the Kaimai’s as well as Bay of Plenty, East Cape and Gisborne.
Powerlines company Vector has warned of possible blackouts this weekend as heavy rain and strong winds lash the north and east of the North Island.
Last night, the Far North was beginning to see some of the wet weather. At 7.30, Far North District councillor Colin Kitchen said it was raining at Whatuwhiwhi on the Karikari Peninsula and “starting to storm up a bit”.
Weatherwatch.co.nz said light rain was falling across northern parts of Northland and winds at Cape Reinga were close to gale force.
Vector warned people in Wellsford, Warkworth, East Coast Bays, Whangaparaoa, the Clevedon coast and Waiheke to be prepared for power cuts, and said other areas could also be affected.
MetService weather ambassador Bob McDavitt compared the severity of the approaching storm to the lesser of two storms that flooded Northland in July last year.
The low-pressure system would stretch from New Caledonia to the top of New Zealand, he said.
The MetService said that although the centre of the low should pass to the north of the country, heavy rain and damaging winds would hit the upper North Island.
Civil Defence warned Aucklanders to keep an eye on the forecasts and prepare for severe weather between lunchtime today and lunchtime tomorrow.
The MetService expects up to 150mm of rain to fall in Northland, especially on the eastern hills from Whangarei north. Rodney District north of Warkworth,
Great Barrier Island, the Coromandel Peninsula and the Kaimai Ranges are likely to get up to 120mm of rain.
Gales are likely to accompany the drenching. Gusts of 120km/h to 140km/h are likely in higher parts of Northland, Auckland, Great Barrier Island, Coromandel Peninsula and the Hauraki Plains.
The MetService said the combination of heavy rain and strong winds was likely to make driving hazardous and lead to flooding, slips, rapidly rising streams and rivers and possible damage to trees and buildings.
WeatherWatch.co.nz head weather analyst Philip Duncan also warned of power cuts and property damage.
“We’re not wanting to alarm people – this is a moderate storm – but people should be prepared for powercuts and the potential for some damage.”
Mr Duncan said there was a high chance of flooding, slips and damage to trees in eastern parts of Northland, Coromandel and East Cape.
Auckland Civil Defence said people in low-lying areas that were prone to flooding should have a getaway kit of medication and other essential supplies ready in case they had to move higher ground.
on 11/07/2009 10:11pm
After 13 hours without Power, that was quite some Storm, we live on the Beachfont of Whitianga and the 160 kph winds buffeting the front of the house were deafening.
Starting to ease now, but the Sea is still huge.
Winter in Whitianga…Awesome
on 11/07/2009 1:06pm
Very strong winds have arrived here, No rain as yet,
on 11/07/2009 10:58am
Must admit it is not nice up here at the moment, and we are on the sheltered end of the beach, the waves are really booming… what direction will the winds come from next, if they are westerly we will not be sheltered then… but we still have power…. now I have jinxed it.
fire brigade has been busy.. It is not raining at the moment.
on 11/07/2009 11:02am
The rain has eased for now (you can clearly see the break in clouds on the satellite map to the right of the page). More rain is likely before dawn though.
As the night wears on the winds will shift more south easterly, currently they are ESE. By dawn they should be SE and then move SSE.
P.S. thanks for the update!
on 11/07/2009 10:30am
We lost internet in Albany around an hour ago (I am connected now through a cellphone 3G connection).
Also now pouring down and winds are really tearing into the roof, one hell of a sound. Also heard one loud thunder clap (or maybe just wind really cracking into something)
on 11/07/2009 9:44am
Huge winds now…. not sure what wind speed but gusting to what feels a lot like roof lifting strength. Rain almost horizontal at times.
on 11/07/2009 9:38am
Hey there, the power held out until Garfield was over and kids were tucked into bed. Hoping the galeforced winds have passed. As I sit typing this in the dark whilst the house does a random shudder and the roof thumps!
on 11/07/2009 9:04am
Been raining here fairly steadily since about 4pm now. Both Temp and Air Pressure have really dropped away in the last 4 hours, so am expecting things to heat up (or not!) overnight. Hope you guys up North are holding up alright……