Posted: 22 January 2011
Widespread flooding possible as heavy rain looms
Northlanders – especially those in northern and eastern parts of the region – are being warned they may face widespread flooding this weekend with up to 350mm of rain predicted to fall by midnight Sunday.
MetService forecasters have issued a severe weather warning for much of the mid and north of the North Island, saying generally Northlanders can expect 150mm to 250mm of rain – and possible flooding – in the 24 hours until midnight Sunday 23 January.
However, in northern and eastern areas of Northland, forecasters warn even more rain could fall, possibly up to 350mm over the same period, and in all areas, rainfall intensities of 25 to 30mm/hr are possible.
Graeme MacDonald, Civil Defence Emergency Management Senior Programme Manager for the Northland Regional Council, says if the rain falls as predicted it will be equivalent to a month or two’s rain and Northlanders will face widespread flooding.
“This rain will cause rivers and streams to rise quickly, with slips and localised flooding possible, and may make driving conditions dangerous.”
Mr MacDonald says a slow-moving trough of low pressure, just east of the upper North Island deepened this morning and has already brought associated heavy rain across Northland.
This widespread heavy rain is linked to a subtropical low which is expected to approach the country during Sunday and lie over the upper North Island by midnight.
Mr MacDonald says forecasters are still uncertain about the precise track and speed of the low, but the amount of rain is likely to be significant.
“Given this, we’re advising people to keep up to date with the latest forecasts and warnings.”
He says Civil Defence officials throughout the region have been alerted and are keeping a wary eye on the situation as it develops.
He says farmers with stock in low-lying areas who have not already moved them to higher ground should do so and he urged people stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary.
Mr MacDonald says river and rainfall data from throughout Northland is automatically posted at two hour intervals on the Regional Council’s website www.nrc.govt.nz/riversandrain