Cyclone strength winds up to 190kmh strikes New Zealand
Emergency services were kept busy as winds gusting up to 190kmh brought down trees, cut power and damaged properties.
Tens of thousands of homes were still without power this morning across Auckland and the Coromandel, and several schools were forced to close.
Across Vector’s northern network there were still 55,000 households without power this morning.
At the height of the storm there were 70,000 customers cut off. So far 15,000 homes have had power restored.
At the Auckland Harbour Bridge, which was forced closed, wind gusts reached 130kmh and at the Tiritiri Lighthouse in the Hauraki Gulf, up to 170kmh.
On the Whangaparaoa peninsula the average wind speed was 104kmh and in Coromandel winds hit 190kmh.
“I have some pretty high figures and I think it was one of the windiest nights,” MetService meteorologist John Law said.
“Cyclone category one or two would have an average wind speed of 89kmh to 117kmh. So that puts you into that category but that is not a direct comparison,” Law said.
Auckland had 60 millimetres to 70mm of rain in 24 hours.
The storm was this morning moving south.
TREES, POWER LINES DOWN
The power outages were caused by three severe wind periods throughout the night blowing sodden vegetation on to lines or bringing trees down across lines, the last of those being about 3am this morning, Vector said.
Crews were assessing damage caused to lines reportedly by letterboxes, trampolines and garden furniture being blown into them.
At least one person was injured by a falling tree, a child hit when a tree crashed through the roof of a house in Manly, on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula north of Auckland. The child was taken to hospital with minor injuries.
Auckland Transport said traffic on the city’s roads was generally flowing well but there was still debris about. It said some traffic lights may be out, particularly north of the harbour bridge.
The winds tipped over a truck on the Harbour Bridge about 3am, blocking two lanes. It was cleared about 5am and the bridge fully reopened.
A boat was also blown off its moorings and into the bridge, with its mast against the railing.
Many of the navy’s sailors got unscheduled leave after the storm blacked-out its main base in Auckland.
Lieutenant Commander Victoria Rendall said hundreds of non-essential staff were sent home from the Devonport Naval Base.
WIDESPREAD WEATHER HAVOC
As the storm headed south, there were still severe weather warnings with more rain expected in the Bay of Plenty, as well as parts of the Coromandel, Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay.
“But the good news is things are slowly going to improve as we head in towards the weekend,” Law said.
A commercial fishing boat with three people on board was in difficulty about 200 metres off the western Coromandel coast.
Police said the vessel had ropes wrapped around its propeller which was preventing it from making its own way. Its anchor was holding it in place in about 3m of water, off Amodeo Bay.
Emergency services were called to free a person trapped under a damaged house at Wharekaho, near Whitianga overnight.
Police closed Blacksmith Lane in Whitianga due to flying roof iron as firefighters worked to secure the roofs. State Highway 25 south of Whitianga, and the roads near Tairua and south of Thames were flooded.
Hamilton police city shift manager Sergeant Dave Raffan said a truck and trailer unit had rolled by the railway crossing on SH27 at Tatuanui about 5.30am.
There was flooding across parts of Hamilton and drivers were advised to take caution, he said.
MetService forecast persistent rain for Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay from tonight to Friday morning, with up to 250mm of rain possible in the ranges and 150mm in other areas.
In the Rangitikei district up to 200mm of rain could fall today and tomorrow.
In Wairarapa and eastern Wellington, up to 160mm is possible could fall overnight tonight.