Clearer skies may be on the horizon, with sunshine appearing over Auckland this afternoon and partly cloudy days over the long Waitangi weekend.
The finer weather comes as Aucklanders recover from another tranche of rain early this morning which left more houses flooded, destroyed by fallen trees and some teetering on the edge of massive slips.
While the city takes stock after the latest downpours, following the deadly storm of Friday night, other parts of the North Island are in the firing line with homes evacuated in the Coromandel and sections of the island’s state highway network closed due to slips.
A red heavy rain warning issued for Auckland and Northland yesterday has since been lifted but the warning remains for the Coromandel and Bay of Plenty until later today.
An orange heavy rain warning is in force for Gisborne, north of Ruatoria, from 1pm today until tomorrow morning and a heavy rain watch for the Eastern Waikato remains until 3pm today.
Nearly 90mm of rain has been recorded in Auckland over the past 12 hours, MetService said.
A large slip on the cliff face under the Ocean Breeze Hotel on Bayswater Ave Bayswater as heavy rain hits Auckland causing widespread flooding. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Over the past 24 hours, 62mm of rain fell in Northland, while the Coromandel recorded a staggering 144mm about the ranges.
“The worst of [the rain in the Coromandel] was concentrated in the hills but fairly intense rain fell closer to the coast, especially considering what they have experienced in the past few weeks,’ MetService said.
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‘Humid, sticky’ air to go - MetService
Rain is forecast for the upper North Island in the coming few days, however, MetService meteorologist Jessie Owen said it should be lighter than what has been seen.
“There will still be some showers around but the accumulations will not be like what we’ve had,” Owen said.
“There’s definitely still a risk. With the rain [the upper North Island] has already seen, any more could cause surface flooding.
“Any rain could be a problem,” she said.
Contractors try to clear surface flooding on Porana Rd Wairau Park Glenfield as heavy rain hits Auckland causing widespread flooding. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Come Waitangi Weekend, sunshine may appear in between cloudy conditions forecast for Auckland and other sodden regions nearby.
A front should move across the country from the west on Sunday and Owen said it could bring clearer skies.
“[It] should clear out all of the humid, sticky air we’ve been drowning in for the past few weeks,” she said.
Highways, homes flooded; slips leave properties on edge
The Bay of Plenty and Coromandel are now in the firing line after another month’s worth of rain has fallen in Auckland in just 24 hours. As the rainmaker moves down the North Island, a massive slip has smashed into the back of a Coromandel home along State Highway 25 near Thames, prompting the evacuation of houses. Auckland’s Tamaki Drive is blocked by a massive slip and the Okahu Bay cemetery has been swamped with floodwaters.
St John Ambulance has sent two rescue helicopters, several rapid response vehicles and an ambulance to a building which has collapsed at the Manukau Heads. Fire and Emergency NZ sent two trucks to the unfolding incident.
An Orua Bay local told the Herald she understood an elderly couple were involved in the collapse, with a man suffering a badly broken leg and an elderly woman still trapped.
Emergency services are dealing with trees that have fallen on homes in Auckland’s Mt Albert and Whitford. A private dam has collapsed on a farm, while torrential rain has brought down more slips and worsened a sinkhole on a key West Auckland road.
Mt Albert’s NW Fresh Collective is back underwater, with sandbags outside the supermarket. The road outside Pak’nSave in Wairau Valley is also swamped for the second time in a week after intense flooding struck the area.
A fallen tree, slip and mud outside Kelly Tarlton's at Okahu Bay as heavy rain hits Auckland causing widespread flooding. Photo / Dean Purcell
Flooding and landslips have hit Devonport, with some residents using buckets to furiously bail out water. There have also been callouts to a range of other suburbs including Hillcrest, Mt Roskill, Onehunga, Belmont, Lynfield, One Tree Hill, Remuera and Greenlane. Motorists were once again stranded on streets with rising floodwaters forcing them to abandon their vehicles in Greenlane.
Auckland Transport has authorised the wiping of all parking tickets issued between 2pm on Friday to 9am this morning. “Over the past few days Auckland Transport’s parking officers have been working across Auckland to support emergency services and our roading teams as they responded to Friday’s flooding and storm damage,” Auckland Transport said in a statement. “Although our parking team’s focus was on helping to clear blocked roads and support public safety, we have been made aware of cases where people in flood-affected areas were issued with various infringements.”
Auckland’s Northern Motorway was closed by flooding in both directions between Esmond and Northcote roads for about 90 minutes on Wednesday, before reopening just before 8am. Other sections of the city’s motorways have also been severely impacted including the Southern Motorway at Greenlane and Ellerslie-Panmure, and the Southwestern Motorway (State Highway 20) southbound between Queenstown Rd and Neilson St. State Highways 1 and 16 further north of Auckland have been closed by slips and flooding.
A caller to Newstalk ZB’s Marcus Lush from Auckland’s Orewa said last night she had been clearing debris from her drains. “Water’s coming up to the door... it’s horrible,” said the woman, who lives near the estuary on Maygrove Dr. “Friday was really bad, I just hope it moves quickly... I’ve already got carpet damage. It’s a bit scary.”
Sandbagging on The Strand in Parnell as heavy rain hits Auckland causing widespread flooding. Photo / Dean Purcell
NIWA reported this morning that, in 24 hours, 71mm of rain had fallen at its Western Springs climate station in Auckland - " month’s worth of rain... again”. Much of the rain fell in only a few hours including 25.2mm in one hour, 44.2 mm in two hours and 58.6mm in three hours.
State Highway 1 is closed between Brynderwyn and Waipu following slips on the southern side of the Brynderwyn Hills, and State Highway 16 is closed between Waimauku and Helensville. A sinkhole also opened up in Swanson, West Auckland, last night, taking out power lines.
Texts to ZB’s Marcus Lush from residents in north Auckland last night included: “Pouring and big wind gusts happening in Tindalls Bay, Whangaparaoa”; “It’s hitting the Whangaparaoa peninsula. Very strong wind and rain”; “At Waitoki, about 15km inland from Orewa. Getting pretty wild here now”; “Wind and rain has increased in Browns Bay.”
Northland is now out from under a red heavy rain warning but is still in a state of emergency. Auckland, north of Orewa, is under a red warning until 8am; Coromandel until 4pm and Western Bay of Plenty areas until 9pm. The rest of Auckland, south of Orewa, is under an orange heavy rain alert until 10am. “It’s right over us now,” tweeted councillor Richard Hills. “Please do not hesitate to evacuate if you feel unsafe or if water starts to rise.”
A homeowner on Lake Road Belmont surveys the flooding to his house as heavy rain hits Auckland causing widespread flooding. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Northland declared a seven-day state of emergency at 1pm on Tuesday - the third region to do so since Friday evening’s deadly storm which has claimed four lives. More than 1000 Far North homes lost power this afternoon, but it was restored for most by 7.30pm. Northland and Auckland down to Orewa remain under a red warning until tomorrow morning.
Coromandel is also in the firing line - a red warning came into effect at 10pm last night - and MetService has extended that to several other areas across the North Island, including Tauranga and Rotorua.
State Highway 2 in the Karangahake Gorge between Waihī and Paeroa was closed by a large slip yesterday afternoon. It has now reopened.
Meanwhile Auckland mayor Wayne Brown has urged residents to “stay home” wherever possible. So far, more than 100 homes have been red-stickered and 375 have been yellow-stickered.
A cyclist rides through floodwater as Greenlane is closed to traffic due to surface flooding as heavy rain hits Auckland causing widespread flooding. Photo / Dean Purcell
Schools have been closed but the Ministry of Health yesterday afternoon revised its advice for early childhood centres, saying any that can safely open, may unlock their doors for families from today.
An emergency alert was sent to Aucklanders’ mobile phones at 3.30pm. At exactly the same time, new Prime Minister Chris Hipkins announced, from Wellington, that Cabinet had agreed to another $1 million for Auckland’s flood relief fund.
A sinkhole also opened up in Swanson, West Auckland, last night, taking out power lines. Fire and Emergency NZ were initially called to Scenic Drive about 7.30pm after reports of trees falling on the lines. However, upon arrival, they discovered the sinkhole opening up, causing landslides that were taking the lines with them.
One forecaster warned the new rounds of rainfall - caused by the same stubborn subtropical low that brought Friday’s flooding - could bring 100mm to 200mm to parts of Northland, Auckland and the Coromandel in the coming days.
“The very warm and humid air mass covering Aotearoa brings ripe conditions for persistent, heavy rain plus the risk of thunderstorms which can further intensify the rainfall,” MetService meteorologist Lewis Ferris said.
MetService said high rainfalls could cause dangerous river conditions and significant flooding.
“Slips and floodwaters are likely to disrupt travel, making some roads impassable and possibly isolating communities,” the MetService said.
An orange heavy rain warning has been issued for Auckland south of Orewa lasting until mid morning, which could cause rivers and streams to rise rapidly, MetService said.
A slip has brought down large trees and power poles on Scenic Drive near Swanson. Photo / Isaac Davison
The fresh tranche of warnings came as Aucklanders used a reprieve in the weather to start cleaning up after the worst of the rain on Friday evening.
The Minister for Emergency Management Kieran McAnulty yesterday announced an extra $1 million of funding for Auckland’s Mayoral Relief Fund to help communities.
“This is the most significant contribution to a Mayoral Relief Fund ever and ensures that funding is being provided to the affected communities as quickly as possible,” McAnulty said.
So far, more than 100 homes have been red-stickered and 375 have been yellow-stickered.
Meanwhile, schools and other education centres across Auckland have been told they may be able to open within days if the weather improves and roads are cleared.
Yesterday, Secretary for Education Iona Holsted issued a special bulletin for school leaders apologising for “slow” communications yesterday when she instructed schools, kura, tertiary institutes and early learning centres to close.
Holsted said the direction had been “necessary in order for emergency services to work on fixing road infrastructure”.
The Ministry of Education, however, later said early learning services that can safely open, may unlock their doors for families in their community that need education and care from today.
A slip below a house under construction at Hatfields Beach, north Auckland. Photo / Faith Lee
Some 35 Auckland roads are closed or restricted and an entire section of State Highway 25A on the Coromandel Peninsula has been washed away during the intense weather.
Auckland Transport’s Sarah Bryant said since Friday, AT had closed 82 roads, 35 of which remain closed. 47 had been reopened, she said.
There had been 20 slips on the rail network, she said.
Auckland has experienced record rainfall, with widespread flooding creating hazards for people and properties since Friday.
A contractor tries to clear blocked drains on Tamaki Drive as heavy rain hits Auckland causing widespread flooding. Photo / Michael Craig
So far this year the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) said Auckland has already recorded 38 per cent of its usual annual rainfall - and 769 per cent of its average January rainfall.
This month is also likely to go down as one of Auckland’s dreariest Januarys on the books with the city averaging a paltry five hours of sunshine each day.
Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown declared a state of emergency for the region on Friday night, which came into force immediately and will last seven days.
“Stay home if you can,” Brown said. “The ground is so saturated, that if anything [the coming rain] could be worse than Friday.”
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