Heavy rain and severe gales from Cyclone Cook hit NZ

NZ 13/04/2017

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MetService meteorologist Lisa Murray is warning Cyclone Cook will be the worst to hit NZ since 1968.

"I've been a meteorologist for 12 years and I've never seen a low take a track across NZ like this," she says.

"More experienced forecasters say that this is the worst they've seen since 1968, when the Wahine disaster occurred."

Ms Murray says these coastal areas will be at risk from the six-metre swells - and possible landslips.

The cyclone is expected to hit on Thursday - so make sure you're prepared with your Civil Defence kits, and avoid long distance travel where possible. For those flying around NZ this weekend - keep an eye on updates from your airline carrier as there will potentially be delays and cancellations.

Click here to see a full list of school closures across the country.

AUCKLAND/RODNEY/HAURAKI:

13 schools and 16 early childhood centres on Great Barrier Island, Waiheke and in the Franklin area have been contacted and advised to close Thursday, says the Ministry of Education. Auckland University and AUT campuses are also closed from 11am today.

Great Barrier Island has also been asked to brace themselves for some of the most severe weather they've seen in recent times.

Auckland Transport have warned there could be disruptions with public transport, Auckland's Harbour Bridge vehicle restrictions affecting Northern Express double decker buses, and rail services reduced or cancelled if flooding occurs again. 

The Harbour Bridge may potentially close if winds exceed 130kms but is looking less unlikely now.

Auckland harbour ferries are operating, except Gulf Harbour, which has been replaced by bus services.

Shearing has been cancelled at Auckland's Royal Easter Show because of the risk to animal welfare and potential problems trucking animals to the show.

Auckland Civil Defence is warning people to postpone travel on Thursday afternoon when Cook is expected to hit between noon and 6pm.

The heaviest rain is expected until Thursday evening, with thunderstorms and severe gusts possible.

Current road closures include:
NORTH:
- Falls Rd, Warkworth (closed to Woodcocks Rd, flooding)
- Mangawhai Rd (closed btwn Ryan Rd & Waiteitei Rd, flooding)

SOUTH EAST
- Maraetai Coast Rd (closed, slips)
- Kawakawa Bay Coast Rd (closed, slips, access for residents only)
- East Coast Rd (closed, slips)
- Franklin Rd, Pukekohe (closed, flooding)

WEST
- Great North Rd & Clark St intersection, New Lynn (closed, flooding)
- Bethells Rd (closed btwn Stoney Creek Dr & Duffy Rd, slips)

NORTHLAND:

Power outages are currently hitting parts of Northland in areas around Kawakawa, Kaeo and Whangaroa affecting about 420 homes.

SH1 is open again to one lane near Mangamuka, after a slip closed the road earlier. It is currently the only main road access to the Far North.

The Far North is temporarily inaccessible. SH10 is closed due to flooding near Kaeo.

BAY OF PLENTY:

A state of emergency has been declared for the Bay of Plenty Civil Defence Emergency Management Group.

Cyclone Cook will hit the Bay of Plenty region with more than 200mm of rain expected the next few days and will be similar in strength to Cyclone Debbie.

Civil Defence are urging all residents to have an evacuation plan in place, have a supply of food and water for three days, and avoid unnecessary travel..

All 57 schools and about 80 early childhood centres in the Eastern Bay of Plenty have been contacted and advised to close tomorrow.

BOP's District Health Board has made twenty Pepi-Pods available for Edgecumbe families unable to return home and who need a safe space for their babies to sleep. They will be available from Whakatane's Maternity Unit.

A boil water notice has been issued for the following eastern Bay of Plenty areas due to risk of contamination from flood waters:

  • Tāneatua
  • Te Mahoe
  • Rūātoki
  • Rangitaiki Plains (including Te Teko/Mapou, Edgecumbe, Awakeri, Braemar, Onepu, Otakiri and Thornton).

COROMANDEL:

People living in low lying areas of the Coromandel are being asked to evacuate immediately. This specifically refers to beach-front properties, and properties on estuaries who have been flooded before in very high tides combined with storm surges.

Coromandel, eastern Bay of Plenty, Franklin, Great Barrier and Waiheke Island schools (94 in total) and early learning centres (130) are closed today.

Civil Defence is advising everybody to stock up on the supplies and medication that will last at least 3 days.

"Everyone needs to be in a safe place and be prepared to sit it out for 24 hours or more," says Thames Valley Civil Defence Controller Garry Towler.

"Those planning to travel to or from the Coromandel from tonight through to Saturday, please delay your travel as the likelihood of slips and road closures is very high."

State Highway 25 is now open to a single lane at the site of the Ruamahunga slip (between Thames and Coromandel), with stop/go traffic control in place, however there is an increased risk that the slip will come down again, especially with heavy rain forecast to fall on the Coromandel Peninsula from Wednesday night.

Thames Coast Rd is closed at the end of Tararu Rd due to a slip.

WAIKATO:

Waikato is being warned to prepare for more heavier weather than initally thought, with the path of Cyclone Cook moving more west than first predicted.

Properties in Te Aroha and Matamata have reported flooding, while firefighters are pumping out the basement of Horse & Jockey Pub in Matamata.

Civil Defence is warning residents to be prepared with enough water and food for 7 days.

Waikato farmers are being told to move stock to higher ground and prepare for power outages.

Following a serious crash on State Highway 27 near Patetonga, the road has now been reopened but still expect delays. 

DUNEDIN:

The council is preparing for the worst and has activated its emergency operations centre ahead of anticipated flooding issues on Wednesday evening.

There were some areas where residents were told to be ready to evacuate, and that call would be made around 4pm, Mayor Dave Cull told media.

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