Thursday, May 23, 2024

BREAKING – Heavy rain and severe thunderstorm warnings issued for Auckland

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Commuters are advised to take extra care when travelling today. Times file photo Wayne Martin

Auckland Transport (AT) is urging residents to take “extreme care” when travelling around the city today due to the heavy downpour which is causing surface flooding on the roads.

AT executive general manager safety Stacey van der Putten says: “We’re urging Aucklanders to take extreme care when travelling today, with heavy rainfall already causing surface flooding across Auckland.

“MetService has advised conditions are expected to worsen this afternoon, so we’re encouraging Aucklanders to head home early if possible and to delay all non-essential travel.

“With surface flooding becoming widespread in some West Auckland communities we are reminding Aucklanders to stay clear of floodwaters and to not drive through them as this poses a serious risk to their safety.

“We’ve also reminded our bus drivers this morning of the importance of following diversions put in place and to not drive through floodwaters themselves.

“Due to the extremely heavy rain there are already significant disruptions and delays to public transport services today, with buses, trains and ferries all subject to delays and cancellations.”

People should check the AT Mobile App and Live Departures for the latest information about which services are affected.

Meanwhile, a severe thunderstorm watch and flooding event has been issued for Auckland.

MetService has issued an Orange Heavy Rain Warning and a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for Auckland, including Aotea Great Barrier Island today, May 9.

Auckland Emergency Management has issued an emergency mobile alert.

Heavy rain and thunderstorms are affecting the Auckland region and expected to continue into the evening, potentially through to midnight tonight.

If your life or property is at risk, phone 111 immediately. If you need to evacuate, seek shelter with friends and family and take important items with you.

Plan your travel carefully, we are likely to see widespread surface flooding across Auckland, including during the afternoon and evening commute. If you can travel earlier, please do.

Follow MetService for updates. If Civil Defence Centres and Shelters are required, these will be published on www.aucklandemergencymanagement.org.nz.

A severe Thunderstorm Warning is in place for Kaipara, Auckland City, Waitakere, Rodney, and Albany.

The Orange Heavy Rain Warning is in place between midday and midnight tonight and the Severe Thunderstorm Watch covers 2pm to 10pm across the same period.

Mayor Wayne Brown says: “Auckland is experiencing widespread flooding and torrential rain. Please take care and follow advice. Visit www.getready.govt.nz now and make a plan for your family.”

Deputy Mayor Desley Simpson says: “For those in west Auckland, Te Manawa library in Westgate will be open from 1pm today to seek shelter.

“If you need to evacuate, and it is safe to do so, bring important medications, essential items for babies and children, and warm clothing with you.”

People should also prepare for power cuts by making sure their phones are charged and they have torches ready.

Read more about MetService watches and warnings here.

Landslide advice

Properties next to, above or below properties affected by existing landslides may be at increased risk of further landslides, says Head of Engineering Resilience, Ross Roberts.

“In many areas, cliff top properties with existing landslides may encounter further damage.“If your house has a red “entry prohibited” placard, ensure you’re following the requirement to stay out.

“If your house has a yellow “restricted access” placard, follow the restrictions given on the placard and seriously consider avoiding any entry for the duration of the event.

“If your house is next to a property with a placard, or if you see any signs of instability, or if you are concerned about the stability of the land around your house, we recommend you are extra cautious during this likely severe weather event and you may want to consider finding alternative accommodation during heavy rain,” says Mr Roberts.  

Land instability warning signs to look for

  • new cracking in the ground around your house  
  • recent movement such as leaning power poles, trees, and retaining walls 
  • muddy water flowing down slopes or springs forming
  • loss of power or other utilities 
  • new cracks appearing inside the house eg, in gib/plaster, tiles 
  • jamming doors and windows can be a warning sign but are common in humid conditions, so if this occurs look for other warning signs 
  • unusual sounds such as trees cracking, rumbling or rocks falling or knocking together 
  • pavements sinking or finding new rocks, soil, or other debris on or around your house and property. 

Preparing for bad weather

  • Keep an eye on the weather forecast.
  • Take extreme care if you are driving in heavy rain, and delay trips if possible. Do not drive through floodwaters.
  • If life or property is at risk, phone 111.
  • Looking out for neighbours, friends and family is also important, especially if you live, work or travel in an area that is prone to flooding, slips or power outages
  • Fallen trees, blocked drains or debris on public property can be reported to Auckland Council using our online ‘Report a Problem’ tool.

·        If your property is damaged, take photographs for your insurer as early as possible

If out and about in a storm

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.

Never attempt to drive over slips and treat power lines as live at all times.

Check on neighbours and family, especially if they are in at risk areas or might be affected by flooding or slips.

Pets and livestock

If you live on a rural property, think about your livestock rotation, especially if areas of your farms are flood-prone.

  • If you have to evacuate, take your pets with you – if you can do so safely – or take them to a safe shelter place.
  • If you have to leave your animals behind, make sure they’re in a secure and sheltered place either inside or outside your home.
  • If you have livestock or horses in paddocks near waterways that have the potential to flood (streams, rivers etc.), move them to higher ground. Make sure your stock have access to clean feed and water in their new contained space until they can be returned to their paddocks.
  • If you need more detailed guidance, check the animals affected by emergencies factsheets on the Ministry for Primary Industries website.

Tornado tips

There is also a possibility of tornado conditions but, as always, it is hard to pick where the greatest risk is and almost impossible to predict where a tornado might appear, so remember:

  • If you see a tornado, seek shelter immediately.
  • If you’re inside, stay away from doors and windows, and stay downstairs if you’re in a multi-storey building.
  • For added protection, get under something sturdy, cover your body with a blanket or mattress and protect your head with your hands.
  • If you’re outside, lay flat in a gully, ditch or low spot on the ground and protect your head with an object or your arms.
  • If you’re in a car, pull over and shelter in a low spot (not under or near the car).

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