The storm which flooded parts of Northland with up to two months' of rain in two days has tracked further south and brought winds of up to 100km/h in Taupo and 113km/h in Taranaki. In the worst hit region of Taranaki, which is still recovering from a hammering two weeks ago, about 2500 people are without power tonight.
Powerco Network Operations Manager Phil Marsh said significant damage had been caused to the company's electricity network in Taranaki. "Powerco is advising people who are currently without power to prepare to be off overnight," Marsh said. Dangerous winds and road closures are hampering Powerco's efforts to restore power. "As soon as it's safe, crews will be out in force working to get the power back on as soon as they can. We've brought in staff from outside the region to help restore supply." ONE News reporter John Newton said the "sheer violence of the winds" earlier today through some parts of Taranaki was "absolutely astonishing" . Newton said trees were ripped from the ground, roofs torn from houses and vehicles rolled over. Strong winds forced New Plymouth Airport to close for the morning, with gusts recorded at twice the safe speed for aircraft.WATCH: Violent winds in Northlands.
Storm beginning to lose momentum
ONE News weatherman Jim Hickey says a reprieve from the gales is on the horizon for Taranaki, Taupo and the Central North Island High Country, Wellington and Horowhenua Kapiti Coast. "The storm is beginning to lose momentum. Severe gails from the high country, to Taranaki, to Wellington are on the cusp of abating," Hickey said. Metservice said heavy rain is on the way for Gisborne, Hawkes Bay and Wairarapa tonight and warned people in these areas to watch out for rapidly rising streams and rivers, slips, surface flooding and hazardous driving conditions. Taupo also took a battering today, suffering power cuts, flying debris and falling trees. High winds and fallen trees have caused the closure of a section of State Highway 5 near Taupo. The New Zealand Transport Agency says the road will remain closed overnight.
Continuing high winds mean trees and branches are still falling so it is too dangerous for contractors to begin clearing the debris. Motorists travelling between Taupo and Rotorua will be diverted onto Broadlands Road.
As the floodwaters recede in Northland, another low will move onto the Far North tomorrow night, Hickey says. "But don't panic, it's not a storm. It's moving quickly and it's not as deep or as nasty as the current system and it will affect parts of Northland and the Bay of Plenty." Dan Corbett from MetService says some parts of Northland have recorded up to 300 mm of rain since Sunday afternoon, but the main rain band is now fragmenting. Kaeo was hit the worst by the heavy rain with residents having to flee to higher ground while cattle were left stranded. Civil Defence opened evacuation centres for those who had been misplaced. Warnings remain for motorists and residents in Northland, despite the improving forecast. Travellers are being warned to drive with caution as roads that were clear may now be blocked or flooded. Whangarei District Council says rivers have now passed their peaks but levels are expected to fluctuate throughout the day. Crews were out on the roads early this morning checking for damage, slips, fallen trees, flooding and washouts. Residents are being encouraged to check the Whangarei District Council Website or Northland Regional Council website for more information. - TVNZ.