Posted: 10 July 2007
Flooding highly likely as rain worsens
MEDIA RELEASE No.1 - 0940hrs: Northlanders are being warned to brace for widespread flooding with the torrential rain falling on the region likely to be even heavier than previously forecast and gale force winds also expected.
The Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Group has been activated and is actively monitoring the situation as it unfolds from its Emergency Operating Centre in Whangarei.
Centre Manager Graeme MacDonald says widespread surface flooding and slips are highly likely, with flood-prone areas of Northland already beginning to experience problems.
“For instance, in the Kaeo area, 123mm of rain has already fallen between midnight and 8.15am today. The MetService is now predicting another 150mm to 250mm of rain will fall on Northland in the 22 hours to 6am Wednesday, especially about the central and eastern hills, and the east coast.”
Mr MacDonald says to put those figures in perspective, the Kaeo area, which has already experienced roughly a fortnight’s rain in just over eight hours, could yet receive another entire month’s worth by 6am tomorrow.
Northland Regional Council Hydrologists are predicting the following areas will flood today if the rain continues as predicted:
- Waipapa River north of Okaihau (Puketi Forest). The river is currently running 4m above normal, and is expected to result in the closure of SH1 at Rangiahua from noon onwards.
- The Kerikeri River could potentially rise to levels near the March storm, dependent on this afternoon’s rainfall. If 200mm falls as predicted by MetService serious flooding will result.
- East Coast areas - Kawakawa River flood waters may encroach on SH1 at Three Bridges
- Whakapara and Waiotu rivers. If 150mm falls on eastern hills, then SH1 at Whakapara likely to close tonight or early tomorrow morning. Whakapara is likely to overspill stopbanks later tonight flooding Hikurangi Swamp.
To add to the region’s weather woes, many parts of Northland are being warned to expect damaging easterly winds over the next day, with gusts of up to 130 km/h likely in exposed areas from the Bay of Islands as far south as the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
Mr MacDonald reiterated his earlier warnings for Northlanders to take special care and delay all non-essential travel as driving conditions are likely to be hazardous.
Farmers in low-lying areas should already have moved stock to higher ground and the region’s boat owners should have checked their vessels are moored safely and securely.
Mr MacDonald says officials will be keeping a close watch on the weather throughout the day, in particular as high tide approaches just before 4pm today.
He says weather-related information - including road closures and weather warnings - are being posted as they come to hand on the Northland Regional Council’s website on the following link www.nrc.govt.nz/flooding