28 Jan 2011

Civil Defence on alert for Cyclone Wilma

10:21 pm on 28 January 2011

Civil Defence officers in the upper North Island are on alert for any problems from the arrival of heavy rain and winds caused by the tail-end of Cyclone Wilma.

MetService says Wilma is due to be near Cape Reinga about 1am on Saturday and move swiftly to the south-east, clearing the East Cape by the afternoon.

Severe gales are possible for Northland, Auckland, Coromandel Peninsula, eastern Waikato, Bay of Plenty and northern Gisborne.

Heavy rain warnings are also in force for those areas, and steady rain has been falling on Friday.

The strongest winds of about 130km/h are expected about eastern Northland and Great Barrier Island.

MetService weather ambassador Bob McDavitt said heavy rains and high winds are expected.

Winds at the centre of the system will be strong enough to break branches, which could cause power lines to be brought down, he says.

Earlier this week, Cyclone Wilma damaged buildings and wiped out crops in Tonga's Ha'apai island group.

Meanwhile, coastal parts of Southland and Otago could be affected until Saturday morning by southwest gales by a separate low.