Cyclone Cook is set to be the gnarliest storm in decades, but even before it reaches New Zealand, heavy rain is causing havoc in the North Island.
Deluges in Auckland, Northland and Coromandel overnight have caused flooding, slips and road closures, ahead of the cyclone’s anticipated arrival on Thursday afternoon.
Between 150-300mm of rain is expected across Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty, and power outages are expected later on Thursday.
Here’s what you need to know about what’s closed, where to avoid and how to keep safe. And please, take care of yourself and your loved ones.
SCHOOLS, TRAVEL AFFECTED
The Education Ministry has shuttered scores of schools and early childhood centres in Bay of Plenty, Thames-Coromandel, Auckland and elsewhere.
Auckland’s Harbour Bridge may also be closed in an unprecedented move if strong winds make it too dangerous for motorists.
Flights are expected to be delayed and cancelled, and Air New Zealand warns of “significant disruption” to North Island, Nelson and Blenheim services. Customers were advised check for changes to their scheduled flights, and could defer their flights if they did not want to travel.
The Transport Minister’s official advice is to stay home and watch Netflix – although power outages are expected later on Thursday.
* SH1 at Mangamuka Gorge is closed due to a large slip, and the detour route on SH10 is now also closed due to flooding near Kaeo. Caution is advised on SH11 between Paihia and Kawakawa due to a slip.
* Fire crews are fighting off floodwaters.
* Heavy rain warning is in place.
* Kerikeri had 75.8mm of rain in just two hours late on Wednesday evening – more than half the amount of rain normally received during all of April.
* Heavy downpours, flash flooding and 80kmh winds were expected to last until midnight Thursday. Between 150-300mm of rain is expected from 9am Wednesday to 9pm Thursday.
* NZTA warns the Harbour Bridge could be closed later on Thursday if predicted winds of 130-160kmh eventuate, as travel would become dangerous. Alternatively, the speed limit on the bridge may be lowered.
* Motorists were urged to begin planning alternative routes home and delay non-essential travel across the bridge. High-sided vehicles and motorcyclists should avoid the bridge in strong winds.
* If the bridge is closed, alternative routes between the city and North Shore will be via SH16 and 18.
* Some schools in Franklin, Waiheke Island and Great Barrier Island are closed.
* The forecast has sparked warnings from the Auckland Council, Civil Defence and the New Zealand Transport Agency.
* People should expect delays and cancellations to certain train services in the city’s south later in the day.
* All three island schools – Waiheke Primary, Te Huruhi Primary, and Waiheke High – are closed on Thursday.
* There is already flooding in Blackpool, near what locals call “mosquito basin”, and at Matiatia car park.
* Trees and power lines may be downed, and residents are urged to prepare for power cuts.
Bay of Plenty, including Edgecumbe
* How to help Edgecumbe and the BoP
* Up to 300mm is expected to hit Bay of Plenty in the 72 hours from midday Wednesday, on already saturated catchments.
* A regional state of emergency is in place amid efforts to pump water from flood-torn Edgecumbe.
* Access to areas of Edgecumbe devastated by last week’s floods has been suspended today, effective as of 3pm, due to the incoming weather.
* School and early childhood centres in eastern Bay of Plenty have been told to stay closed. Schools in the region’s west should close by 1pm, the Ministry of Education says.
* Edgecumbe residents will be alerted to any evacuations by fire station sirens sounding continuously and by emergency services vehicles with sirens.
* Remnants of Cyclone Cook expected to cross from Coromandel Peninsula to Wellington on Thursday evening to Friday morning. A state of emergency has been declared in the area.
* Civil Defence teams were going around the peninsula, advising people in low-lying areas to move to higher ground.
* Evacuation centres were opening on Thursday morning.
* Several slips and downed trees have closed SH25 between Thames and Coromandel. There have already been 100 slips in the region. Flooding is also expected, and could cause road closures.
* 150 to 205mm of rain possible in 39 hours from 9am Wednesday to midnight Thursday. Winds of up to 150km/hour or more possible from Thursday afternoon with waves of 5 metres or more on eastern Coromandel coast.
* Extreme care should be taken around at high tide times on the eastern Coromandel coast (8.36am and 9pm Thursday and 9.16am and 9.41pm Friday). Care should also be taken on the Firth of Thames coast. Coastal areas in the east can expect large waves of 5 metres or more during this time, with storm surges near the centre of Cyclone Cook.
* Waikato Civil Defence is urging farmers to move stock to higher ground, as well as asking the public to ensure they have seven days’ worth of food and water stored.
* Power cuts are possible during the storm.
Great Barrier Island
* Heavy rain of up to 180mm possible on Thursday, with severe gales of up to 120kmh possible too.
* Several schools are closed.
* 150 to 205mm in 39 hours from 9am Wednesday to midnight Thursday, and wind of up to 150km/hour or more possible from Thursday afternoon until early Friday.
* Residents are advised to keep an eye on the lake, which is expected to rise by half a metre.
* Severe gales are possible on Thursday, with gusts of 140kmh or more.
* Thursday brings chances of severe gales, with gusts of 140kmh or more.
* Severe gales of 140kmh or more are possible from Thursday night to Friday morning.
* Thursday evening brings chances of severe gales of 140kmh or more, until Friday.
* The storm will reach the capital in the early hours of Friday morning
* It is expected to bring strong winds and heavy rain to Wellington
West Coast, Nelson, Tasman
* Region set for soaking
* Up to 200mm of rain hit the ranges around Nelson overnight Thursday, with maximum rainfall rates of 30 to 40mm an hour.
* A low moving in from the Tasman Sea will bring rain to the West Coast before other regions in the South Island.
* A severe weather watch has been issued for the affected areas.
* Flights in and out of Nelson may be disrupted.
* A severe weather watch is in place for Marlborough, with severe rain and gales possible from Thursday evening until Friday morning.
* Blenheim flights may be disrupted.
* Weather watch is in place, with heavy rainfall between 50-60 mm forecast
* Gusts of up to 100 kmh could hit the Banks Peninsula and other parts of the East Coast
* Flooding fears for Dunedin
* Dunedin City Council has activated its Emergency Operations Centre ahead of anticipated flooding
* Heaviest rainfall had been expected from midnight to 2am Thursday
* In Dunedin about 100-120mm of rain is forecast to accumulate – on top of what has already fallen – in the 27 hours from 9am on Wednesday.
* No weather warnings are in place for Southland, however rain could still fall in Clutha until midday Thursday.