Cyclone Cook creeps closer

Auckland residents are being urged to prepare for a wet lead up to Easter as Cyclone Cook inches closer to New Zealand.

The storm, which is expected to make landfall tomorrow, has already claimed one life as it ravaged New Caledonia and left tens of thousands without power.

While WeatherWatch says Cook is expected to be an ex-cyclone by the time it fully reaches New Zealand, all major centres are being warned to expect bursts of severe weather as Cook merges with the Tasman Sea low around New Zealand.

MetService has issued a heavy rain warning for Auckland, including Great Barrier Island where the cyclone is expected to hit first.

MetService warns heavy rain is expected from today until Thursday evening. In the 33 hours from 9am this morning to 6pm Thursday, 120-160mm is forecast to accumulate. Thunderstorms are also possible, with maximum rainfall rates estimated at 30-40mm per hour.

Great Barrier Island residents are being warned to expect bursts of heavy rain and localised deluges over the next two days before Cook’s arrival on Thursday brings further intense rain and high winds of up to 165km/h.

MetService meteorologist Georgina Griffiths says a risk of localised downpours across Auckland today and tomorrow could wreak even more havoc on areas such as New Lynn and Hunua Ranges which have been ravaged by flooding in recent weeks.

Cyclone Cook is forecast to track close to the Auckland region late tomorrow but the impact it will have is not yet known.

Civil Defence is urging residents to clear out gutters and drains and report any blockages on public land to council.

Motorists heading away for the long weekend are also being advised to take care with increased risk of flooding, slips and dangerous driving conditions.

If you’re heading out and about in the region this Easter weekend consider the following advice from Auckland Civil Defence:

  • Always drive to the weather conditions and never drive through floodwaters.
  • If you get stuck in a flood, get out of your car and move to higher ground immediately, taking great care in the floodwaters.
  • Never play in or walk through floodwaters unnecessarily, you may encounter unseen objects, dangerous debris or holes.
  • If driving at night, drive slowly, especially through flood-prone areas as you may encounter flooding at short notice.
  • If your property or suburb may be affected by slips or power outages, prepare for the possibility that your road access may be cut off and ensure you have food and provisions on hand in case of isolation.
  • Never attempt to drive over slips and treat power lines as live at all times.
  • If there is an immediate risk to life or property contact the emergency services on 111.
  • Report blocked drains, flooding and trees down on public land to the council on 09 301 0101.
  • Check on neighbours and family, especially if they are in at risk areas or might be affected by flooding or slips.
  • If you’ve planned to go camping in our regional parks – phone 09 301 0101 to check the status of the campground before setting off.
  • If you’re planning to go mountain biking, tramping or walking in any regional parks – check conditions and weather forecasts before you go and make sure you’re well prepared for the conditions. If you’re heading out in the Waitakere Ranges, drop in to the Arataki Visitor Centre first for advice on conditions.
  • Tapapakanga Regional Park remains closed.