Weather to blame for slips, flooding, traffic woes

Russell Blackstock, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 18 Sep 2016, 6:45AM
Flooding on Te Horo Rd on the Kapiti Coast yesterday (Supplied)
Flooding on Te Horo Rd on the Kapiti Coast yesterday (Supplied)

Weather to blame for slips, flooding, traffic woes

Russell Blackstock, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 18 Sep 2016, 6:45AM

UPDATED 12.45PM: A large slip has blocked State Highway 3 in North Taranaki and a tree has fallen on an Auckland home as wild weather continues to batter the country.

Central fire communications confirmed firefighters were at the scene on SH3 at Mokau, just south of the bridge.

Both lanes of the road are currently closed due to the size of the slip and contractors were working to get it re-opened.

New Zealand Transport Agency also confirmed the road was currently closed and were asking people to avoid the area or delay their journey.

Meanwhile, earlier today, flooding and slips have also closed roads in Wellington and cancelled World War I centenary events.

The conditions have seen several flights diverted or delayed in Wellington, though flooded rivers are starting to drop.

The usual Sunday brunch will likely be an indoor affair for many with wet weather expected to continue till later today.

Central parts of the country are the worst affected by the heavy rain and winds; with the most rain, 71.5mm, having fallen in the Eastern Bay of Plenty during 12 hours overnight.

Meanwhile weather stations in other parts of the central North Island recorded between 30 to 40mm of rain within the same time period.

MetService meteorologist Claire Flynn said a flood watch had been issued and would be in effect for parts of the central North Island until later this evening.

"We are looking at scattered rain or showers across much of the North Island, though the concentration is in the central part, with heavy rain and larger accumulations," she said. "For other parts we expect some scattered rain or showers over much of the island."

The rain and winds have caused havoc in parts of the country. Early this morning the Fire Service reported a tree had fallen on a house in West Auckland, while flooding and slips closed roads near Wellington.

The spring downpours had also caused flooding in other parts of the lower North Island overnight.

Late yesterday a slip had blocked the southbound lane of State Highway 2, on Rimutaka Hill Road, just west of Featherston. The road was also closed at Melling in Lower Hutt due to flooding.

By 9am the New Zealand Transport Agency tweeted an update that the block at Melling had since been cleared and the road was now open.

Wellington regional emergency management organisation on-duty officer Trevor Farmer said across the region it was pretty wet.

"Council roading teams are out, trees have fallen in some places, minor slippages, flooding in areas.

"The weather forecast is we are going to have this rain until lunchtime, but at the moment rivers are dropping, but dropping very slowly.

"I expect flooding to subside by this afternoon."

Farmer said the usual messages applied; to call 111 if the situation was life-threatening, or if it was something non-urgent and related to council space they could contact their district council.

The coastguard was also kept busy, yesterday with at least two people needing medical treatment after going out in the rough seas.

In the first incident a person had to be pulled from a sinking jet-ski in a Whangaparaoa bay and aside from being wet, cold and mildly hypothermic wasn't seriously hurt.

Another man received a head injury and was treated by Westpac Rescue paramedics later on Saturday afternoon, after the yacht he was on turned abruptly in the wind and he was hit by a moving beam.

However, the worst of the weather was expected to be behind us.

Of the main centres, the capital was expected to be the wettest, with heavy falls easing to showers later in the evening accompanied by strong southerly winds. The temperature in Wellington was expected to only reach a cool 13 degrees.

However, a number of flights to and from the capital were expected to experience some minor delays due to the poor visibility as a result of the low cloud and poor weather.

Two flights, one from Fiji and one from Sydney, were last night diverted to Auckland due to low lying cloud, however, a Wellington Airport spokesperson said no other flights had been seriously affected.

"Passengers should expect potential delays throughout the day and just check with our website and the airlines really."

An Auckland Airport spokeswoman said none of its flights were affected by the weather and everything was running "as per normal".

The rain had also put a dampner on a number of events around the city, with the ceremony of remembrance to mark the centenary of WW1 in France being moved inside.

The ceremony at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park was due to begin at 11am, but has since been moved inside to the Hall of Memories.

As a result the Defence Force said seating would be more limited.

The outside France in the Park segment of the commemorations has also been cancelled.

However, children could still head indoors to make a poppy, and see some historical monuments on display.

While the weather wasn't as bad further north, Auckland too was getting a little bit of rain, though these were lighter with the showers expected to easy by midday, giving way to clear skies in the evening. The city of sails would reach of high of 17 degrees this afternoon.

Christchurch was the driest of the lot, with only clouds expected today with a few southerlies developing and a high of 15 degrees.

Flynn said the wet weather in the North Island wasn't unusual for this time of year.

"We've got this low that's crossing over the country. This time of year we do get these from time to time," she said. "Spring weather is often quite changeable, it just depends what kind of weather systems come our way."