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Brace for widespread flooding, Northlanders warned
Monday 19 March 2012, 12:41PM
By Northland Regional Council


Civil Defence officials are warning Northlanders to brace themselves for widespread flooding over the next day in the wake of a new heavy rain warning issued for the region.

A severe weather warning issued by the MetService at 9.38am today warns to expect another 100 to 150mm of rain, mainly from about Kaikohe southwards, in the 27 hours to midday Tuesday. Severe southerly gales, gusting up to 120 km/h in exposed places, are also expected today.

Graeme MacDonald, spokesman for the Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Group, says on top of the two months' worth of rain that has already fallen in parts of Northland that will likely lead to widespread flooding across much of the region.

Mr MacDonald says Civil Defence officials are keen to stress the seriousness of the situation facing the region.

'We're urging people to take appropriate precautions, especially those living in flood-prone areas. We're also asking people not to travel at all and stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary."

He says Northland Regional Council figures show between midnight Saturday and 9am today, 283.5mm of rain had fallen on the eastern hills above Kaeo - roughly twice the 130mm to 140mm of rain that normally falls on the Northland region for the entire month of March.

Over the same period, 202.5mm had fallen at Whangarei's Glenbervie area, 200mm at Puhipuhi near Whangarei, 189mm at Kerikeri and 179mm at Waitangi. The Ngunguru area near Whangarei had recorded 172mm.

Whangarei city had recorded 117mm, Dargaville had recorded 49.6mm and Pouto Pt just 17mm.

He says surface flooding has already been reported in many areas, with a number of roads also affected and schools closed or closing early.

"With many of the region's rivers already seriously affected by the rain that has already fallen, more rain along the lines of that forecast, coupled with a 2.4m high tide along the east coast about 6pm today means the likelihood of more serious flooding is looking increasingly likely."

Mr MacDonald says forecasters are predicting the rain could also peak at about 15 to 20 mm per hour, again worsening flooding problems. To add to the region's weather woes, the MetService is also warning of severe southerly gales, gusting up to 120 km/h, in exposed places, although those are expected to ease this evening.

Mr MacDonald says information about the weather generally - including warnings, road closures and other information - will be posted as it comes to hand on the Northland Regional Council's website:

He says Civil Defence officials will monitor the situation throughout the day and work with local authorities, emergency services and others as necessary.