20 Jul 2017

Latest winter storm cuts power in Rotorua

11:36 pm on 20 July 2017

Hundreds of households in the Rotorua area have been blacked out tonight, as the country is hit by another winter storm set to bring more rain and gales to the country over the next 24 hours.

Lines company Unison says the outages have been caused by the high winds and heavy rain lashing the region and repairs are difficult because of the conditions.

Emergency services have responded to more than a dozen weather-related calls mainly in the Bay of Plenty.

Reported damage included a roof coming off a house at Waihi Beach and trees coming down in Rotorua, Morrinsville, Tirau and Edgecumbe.

Rotorua Lakes Council said contractors had been sent out to clear trees and other debris from roads.

Vector said winds had also kept repair crews busy in Auckland with four outages.

Tomorrow could see a deluge for eastern parts of the South Island - up to 200mm could accumulate in Canterbury south of the Rakaia river and eastern Otago. Significant accumulations of snow were likely above 400m in these areas, MetService said.

Otago prepares for deluge

The Otago Regional Council said it would be keeping a close watch on the rivers as the new storm hits.

The predicted rainfall is similar to that forecast just before Easter this year, but over a more condensed period, said council spokesperson Scott MacLean.

If 200 millimetres of rain falls as forecast tomorrow, rivers will rise rapidly and surface flooding is expected in low-lying areas, including South Dunedin, said Mr MacLean.

The Kakanui, Shag, Kauru and Waianakarua Rivers in North Otago and the Leith, Silver Stream and Taieri Rivers are all expected to rise swiftly, he said.

Dunedin's council has also begun preparing the city for tomorrow's forecast deluge.

Council chief executive Sue Bidrose said 180 millimetres of rain fell in the major South Dunedin flood two years ago, and this time the forecast is for up to 200 millimetres, so there could well be flooding if that happened.

Dr Bidrose said the council had begun civil council preparations, with staff making sure the stormwater system was cleaned and fully operational, and sand and bags were ready to go.

She said peoples' minds went to South Dunedin, which was seriously flooded in June 2015, but the last flood in Dunedin actually affected the CBD, so everyone in the city needed to be prepared.

She has urged people to clear leaves around drains and from their own guttering, and to prepare their properties for heavy rain.

Travel concerns

The rain and wind was expected to cause widespread travel disruption and localised slips and flooding and damage to trees and power poles, MetService said.

The Transport Agency said there would lots of cars on the road this week because of the end of the school holidays.

It said drivers should be careful and watch out for potholes from the recent snow and rain.

And people in high-sided vehicles or motorcycles should take extra care on the Desert Road in the central plateau due to strong winds.

The stormy weather comes after the country took a battering last week, with snow, heavy rains and strong winds causing widespread flooding and serious disruption to school holiday travel plans.

More than 450 properties remain without power in the central North Island after the storm.

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