Radio New Zealand
Auckland, March 12, 2018
Coromandel and Great Barrier Island are bracing for wild weather this afternoon as Cyclone Hola makes its way down the country.
The cyclone is still quite far off the north-east coast of the country and there is only light rain in the eastern parts of Northland.
Heavy rain warnings are in place for Northland, Great Barrier Island, Coromandel Peninsula and Gisborne.
MetService meteorologist James Millward said that Great Barrier Island and the Coromandel Peninsula will bear the worst of it this afternoon.
Thames-Coromandel District Council Civil Defence Controller Julian Snowball said that they were in monitoring mode and had been advising locals to tie down loose furniture and move valuables out of flood prone areas.
However, he said that they were unlikely to see a repeat of January’s severe storm damage and flooding.
MetService said winds are picking up in Northland – with a 117 km/h gust recorded at its radar site on a hill near Kaeo.
Air New Zealand has already cancelled two flights from Northland and says other flights in the North Island may be disrupted later today.
More resources are being sent to small communities on the East Coast above Hawke’s Bay which are expected to bear the brunt of ex-Cyclone Hola.
Civil Defence in Gisborne has activated all its civil defence teams throughout the region as the storm’s arrival early tomorrow morning coincides with a high tide.
Civil Defence Emergency Manager Louise Bennett said that Fire and Emergency were sending trucks and staff to communities from Hicks Bay to Tolaga Bay.
“We have a lot of small towns up there, from Tolaga north and quite a few people, but you know that they are always ready to react to anything up there.”
Farmers with stock near rivers and streams were being warned about the risk of flooding due to heavy rain and the high tide, Ms Bennett said.
Some low-lying streets in Gisborne may also be affected by rising river levels if heavy rain eventuates.
Civil Defence in Gisborne said Cyclone Hola was slowing down and was hitting the area later than expected.
The East Cape is likely to be worst-affected by the storm.
Civil Defence said rain would develop later this afternoon, with thunderstorms possible, before easing early tomorrow.
Between 100 and 150 millimetres of rain is expected north of the city, and 70-to-100 mm further south.
Winds of up to 120-kilometres-an-hour are predicted for north of Tolaga Bay.
The strongest winds are expected in Northland, Auckland, Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty and Gisborne, and a strong wind warning is in force for these areas.
RNZ Reporter Sally Murphy, who is in Whitianga, Coromandel Peninsula, said it was pretty grey and drizzly, but there was no sign of a cyclone just yet.
RNZ Reporter Shannon Haunui-Thompson, who is in Paihia, Bay of Islands, said that the rain started overnight and had become heavier in the last hour.
She spoke to residents in the area’s east coast, which is prone to flooding, and they didn’t seem to be that concerned.
“I think a lot of concern is around the roads,” she told Morning Report.
“There is still a lot of road damage from previous cyclones. You cannot come through State Highway 1 to Paihia, you’ve got to go around State Highway 10 because that road is still being repaired from the last cyclone. So, this could hold back those repairs.”
Eastern parts of Northland and northern Hawke’s Bay will see up to 150 millimetres of rain, which could cause flooding and fast-rising rivers.
Wind gusts of 130 kilometres an hour is also likely along with heavy swell along the eastern coastline from Northland to Gisborne.
MetService said it was likely to be a one-day wonder which would move away from the East Coast on Tuesday
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Rain in Paihia (RNZ Picture by Dan Cook)