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Severe thunderstorm watch remains, but Auckland rain to ease

Raphael Franks,
Publish Date
Fri, 12 Apr 2024, 7:05AM

Severe thunderstorm watch remains, but Auckland rain to ease

Raphael Franks,
Publish Date
Fri, 12 Apr 2024, 7:05AM

- Northern North Island due for severe thunderstorms, heavy rain and strong winds
- Heaviest rain of 100mm or more expected in Bay of Plenty with orange warning in place
- Waiho River and Hokitika River in Westland are above alert thresholds although rain warnings have ended
- Boil water notice for Franz Josef where more than 400mm has fallen over 60 hours

The worst of the wind and rain is due to pass Auckland in the middle of the afternoon with clear skies returning, but a thunderstorm warning remains.

Rain in Auckland Central will ease to a few showers this afternoon at around 3pm, as fine spells develop, MetService said.

Strong northeasterlies, gusting 90 km/h are expected to turn to a lighter westerly this afternoon, but Auckland Central remains under Severe Thunderstorm Watch until 9pm tonight.

Earlier emergency services were warning of king tides lashing Auckland’s coasts and an ongoing risk of flooding as stormy conditions are set to continue until later today.

The upper half of the North Island is in line for severe thunderstorms and downpours while a Marlborough township was on evacuation alert due to rising river levels.

Aucklanders were warned to watch out on their morning commutes with strong winds setting in and bursts of heavy rain expected.

There were earlier long delays on a main route to Auckland’s Airport after a major crash between a truck and a car. Both eastbound lanes and one westbound lane are closed on State Highway 20B.



The Harbour Bridge remains open but with speed limits reduced.

It follows days of torrential rain around the West Coast that prompted warnings to evacuate, boil drinking water, and take care in dangerous driving conditions.

MetService has issued a severe thunderstorm watch for Auckland, Northland, Great Barrier Island, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and the Coromandel Peninsula until midday. This could cause downpours, flash flooding, slips and make roads more dangerous.

Auckland and other areas are under heavy rain and strong wind watches until midday.

The highest rainfall is expected in Bay of Plenty including Rotorua where an orange heavy rain warning is in place. Niwa said last night up to 100mm could fall in just a few hours, bringing concerns of flooding for the region.

In the six hours to 5.30am Auckland had seen 10-40mm of rain with peak rates around 20mm, MetService meteorologist Alec Holden said - just shy of the downpours that are forecast.

“As a portent of things to come though for Auckland, Northland who have seen the bulk of rain go through have had 50-80mm of rain,” he said. A few remote spots had had torrential rain of at least 25mm an hour.

That front was now travelling through Auckland so rainfall totals would pick up during the morning.

Mt Taranaki and the Nelson and Marlborough ranges have also received a large amount of rain overnight and have heavy rain warnings in place, Holden said.

“If you line all those places up they very roughly form a straight line where this front has been passing over.”

Parts of Auckland north of Albany and in Whangaparāoa, as well as in Brookby, Alfriston and Flat Bush in the south are without power this morning, according to Vector’s outage map.

The Auckland Harbour Bridge is at risk of lane closures or speed limit reductions this morning with the gales that have been blowing since yesterday, the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) said.

The strongest wind gust in the city overnight so far had measured 100kmh at Whangaparāoa, Holden said.

The strong winds will last in Auckland into Saturday, but by Sunday it should ease and give way to a mainly fine day with a chance of a few showers. In the meantime, the city will continue to deal with wind and rain.

Wild weather cancels flights, cuts power 

Forty-six Air New Zealand flights were cancelled yesterday, stranding travellers as the wild weather caused chaos around the country. 

Chief Operational Integrity and Safety Officer, Captain David Morgan, said adverse weather conditions across most of New Zealand presented challenging flying conditions and had disrupted a number of services. 

“Our airport and customer care teams are working hard to reaccommodate customers to get them to where they need to be.” 

Several neighbourhoods in Auckland were plunged into blackouts last night, with power outages reported in parts of New Lynn, Blockhouse Bay and Green Bay, Mt Roskill, One Tree Hill, Westmere and Belmont. 

Large swathes of rural Waitakere, Riverhead, Paremoremo, Wainui, Woodhill Forest were also without power, lines company Vector’s outage map showed, along with parts of Piha and Karekare. 

Parts of rural south Auckland including Alfriston and Brookby, along with areas in Stanmore Bay and Redvale in the north, are without power this morning according to the outage map. 

Fire and Emergency NZ told the Herald it had responded to “a small number” of weather-related callouts since midday Wednesday. 

“These have included callouts to trees and powerlines coming down,” a spokeswoman said. 

“It also included some flooding in Invercargill [yesterday] morning and roof iron lifting in Cobden around midday.” 

Marlborough still in firing line as South Island emerges from days of rain, snow, thunder and gales 

Civil Defence has ordered about 70 families in the small Marlborough town of Springs Creek to evacuate by 9am today with the Wairau River at risk of breaking its stopbanks. 

A heavy rain warning for Marlborough and north of the Richmond Range is still in force till about 10am and could be extended further, MetService’s Alec Holden said. 

Those areas are in line for the same downpours that are currently moving through Auckland. 

At the height of the nationwide storm, MetService issued 25 weather warnings and watches, mostly in the South Island. Southland, Fiordland, the West Coast, Tasman, Nelson, Marlborough, and parts of inland Canterbury and Otago were on alert. 

The heavy rain warnings in Southland lapsed at midnight last night, while the last warnings to end for Westland did so at 5am today. 

Holden said over the 60 hours to 5.30am, southern Westland had borne the brunt of the heavy rain, with Haast getting 486mm - almost half a metre. 

Franz Josef had more than 433mm while further north totals had dropped off - Hokitika had just 72mm. 

Several stretches of State Highway 6 were closed due to slips and flooding, with the closure on a section between Fox Glacier and Haast to be updated at 10am today, and another between Franz Josef and Fox Glacier to be updated at midday. The section from Haast to Makarora was closed overnight too. 

Sandbags were being handed out on the streets of Hokitika, where homes and businesses were at risk of flash flooding. 

Rainfall rates recorded at Milford Sound surpassed the April average in less than three days, MetService said. 

“Some western areas of the South Island have seen almost persistent rain since Tuesday,” the forecaster said. 

SH6 was also due to close along Rocks Rd in Nelson between 10pm yesterday and 2am today due to flood risks. 

Heavy swells were also expected to batter coastlines in the lower South Island as the strong winds hit. 

According to MetService, combined waves of significant height 4m or greater were forecast along the Kāpiti-Porirua coast from Ōtaki to Cape Terawhiti yesterday. 

Further north, gales as strong as 100km/h were recorded in Northland, MetService said. 

Sky Tower restaurants closed due to high winds and more havoc around city 

High winds in Auckland prompted the closure of restaurants at the top of the Sky Tower. 

SkyCity Entertainment said the Orbit, The Sugar Club and SkyBar restaurants would be temporarily closed. 

Fire and Emergency NZ responded to callouts in Auckland related to high winds. There were about 18 callouts involving roofs lifting or trees and powerlines coming down, a spokeswoman said. 

Weather conditions would remain “busy” through Friday, but looking forward to the weekend and next week conditions should ease. 

MetService said there would be “relatively settled” conditions after the past few days’ downpours, thunderstorms, gales and snow. 

Raphael Franks is an Auckland-based reporter who covers breaking news. He joined the Herald as a Te Rito cadet in 2022. 

This article was originally published on the NZ Herald here. 

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