1 Mar 2009

Storm moves south after drenching north

3:56 pm on 1 March 2009

A storm that swept over the northern half of the North Island on Saturday caused widespread flooding and crashes on slippery roads, the worst of which left two women dead.

The women, who were Swedish tourists, died at the scene after their car spun across the centre line and hit another car at the summit of the Brynderwyn Hills, near Waipu.

During the storm, roofs lifted off homes in Te Aroha in the Waikato, and in Auckland.

The intersection of State Highway 10 and Whangaroa Road north of Kaeo was flooded, restricting access on Saturday morning to the township to four-wheel drive vehicles and trucks.

A sewage pumping station near Mangonui was being repaired on Saturday after being put out of action.

Heavy rain caused a sewage overflow in Whangarei's harbour prompting Northland District Health Board to warn against swimming there or gathering shellfish.

Several hundred homes in the area around Kaukapakapa, north-west of Auckland had their electricity supply cut for a time.

As the storm moved south, causing more road accidents, police closed the Pahiatua Track in Manawatu and Grays Rd at Pauatahanui north of Wellington.

Lionel Richie concert cancelled

The concert headlined by American singer Lionel Richie at Mission Estate in Hawke's Bay got under way in the afternoon but was called off because of the weather before Richie took the stage.

Auckland's Derby Day race meeting was postponed till Sunday as the conditions made it potentially dangerous for horses and riders.

By Sunday afternoon, MetService had lifted severe weather warnings for all areas except the South Island's West Coast which was expected to get another 100mm of rain throughout today.

MetService severe weather forecaster Oliver Druce says some areas, such as Auckland city, had less rain that predicted while others received up to 200mm in 24 hours.

Gisborne and Hawkes Bay, some of the driest parts of the country, received up to 50mm of rain, which will have staved off drought for the moment.