Cyclone Dovi: Households without power; trees damage cars; slips, road closures

Cyclone Dovi packed a punch across many parts of New Zealand today, with howling gales and heavy rain causing widespread damage. Video / NZ Herald

WEATHER LATEST

* Auckland Harbour Bridge closed before reopening as wind gusts hit 109km/h;

* Flooding, slips force homes to be evacuated and roads to be closed in Wellington;

* Thousands without power in Northland, boats tear from moorings in Russell, Opua;

* Air NZ cancels at least 100 flights due to the cyclone

* Financial assistance released for deluged South Island farmers

* Several state highways closed around the country. Check list here

* Man taken to Waikato Hospital with serious injuries after tree falls on car

Cyclone Dovi packed a punch across many parts of New Zealand today, with howling gales and heavy rain causing havoc – and temporarily forcing the closure of the Auckland Harbour Bridge as well as temporary power outages across Auckland.

Police urged people to avoid non-essential travel as gale-force winds struck, with gusts of between 130km/h and 150km/h in some parts as the storm reached its peak around lunchtime and early afternoon.

Vector said today’s storm brought “extremely challenging” weather conditions with gusts of up to 150km/h leading to widespread power outages in nearly every part of Auckland.

Some customers could be without power for days, it said.

At the worst point this afternoon, about 50,000 customers were without power for a brief time. Later this afternoon the number had fallen to about 14,000.

“This number continues to change as the crews assess each area and are able to get a clearer picture of the extent of the damage,” Vector’s GM Operations and Maintenance Marko Simunac said.

“Our crews have been working around the clock to make sure areas are safe, before they can finish assessing the damage and carry out repairs.

Locals work to dig yacht 'Crumbs' free from Manly Beach north of Auckland, after the remains of Cyclone Dovi slammed New Zealand. Photo / Neville Marriner
Locals work to dig yacht ‘Crumbs’ free from Manly Beach north of Auckland, after the remains of Cyclone Dovi slammed New Zealand. Photo / Neville Marriner
Locals work to dig yacht 'Crumbs' free from Manly Beach north of Auckland, after the remains of Cyclone Dovi slammed New Zealand. Photo / Neville Marriner
Locals work to dig yacht ‘Crumbs’ free from Manly Beach north of Auckland, after the remains of Cyclone Dovi slammed New Zealand. Photo / Neville Marriner

“The volume of outages, and the location of some in rural areas that can be harder to access, means full restoration in some cases may take a few days.

“As we continue our work we ask the public to please stay well away from downed lines and call 111 if they see any.

“Our crews are working with extra Covid-19 safety precautions in place, such as smaller crew bubbles. This helps keep our crews safe, but it could mean that outages take longer than usual to resolve.”

Images posted on social media show several incidents where trees have fallen on cars or slips have occurred. Photos / Supplied
Images posted on social media show several incidents where trees have fallen on cars or slips have occurred. Photos / Supplied

Waka Kotahi National Emergency Management Team leader Mark Owen said several highways were closed due to slips and flooding, with major disruption unavoidable given the scale of the severe weather.

“Our crews are working hard to clear slips and reopen roads as soon as possible, but heavy rain and severe winds are still affecting many areas, and we need floodwaters to recede in some areas before damage can be assessed.

A car is upturned by a slip in Plimmerton as Cyclone Dovi causes mayhem as it passes over New Zealand. Photo / Dylan Hohepa
A car is upturned by a slip in Plimmerton as Cyclone Dovi causes mayhem as it passes over New Zealand. Photo / Dylan Hohepa

“Driving conditions are hazardous in many areas, with the risk of surface flooding, slips, falling tree branches or power lines coming down, and people should avoid all non-essential travel in these areas.”

Auckland Harbour Bridge was closed at 9.30am due to heavy winds. It was reopened at 2pm with speed restrictions in place and motorists advised to take extra care.

“Waka Kotahi crews reopened the bridge to traffic at 2pm today, with wind gusts dropping below permitted levels for safe use of the bridge,” NZTA said.

A maximum wind gust of 109km/h was recorded at the bridge at 10.45am, well in excess of the 90km/h threshold for safe use.

“We want to thanks motorists for their understanding and patience during this severe weather event. Closing the Harbour Bridge is not a decision we take lightly, but it was necessary in order to keep everyone safe today,” Owen said.

FINAL UPDATE 2:05PM

The Auckland Harbour Bridge is now fully OPEN, continue to take extra care if travelling today. Please be patient while congestion eases and regular traffic flow resumes in the region. ^AP https://t.co/msHpwjja8W

— Waka Kotahi NZTA Auckland & Northland (@WakaKotahiAkNth) February 13, 2022

This evening, Waka Kotahi crews began the task of repairing damaged roads across the country to clear slips and re-open key state highway routes.

Many road surfaces have been damaged by extensive rainfall, and drivers were asked to slow down and take extra care as they are likely to encounter surface water, fallen branches and other residual debris as rain and strong winds continue to affect many parts of the country.

“Our crews will also be out in force getting stuck in to repair work to ensure highways remain safe – please comply with any temporary speed restrictions and other traffic management measures at our worksites. These restrictions are in place to keep workers and road users safe,” Waka Kotahi’s Owen said.

“Driving conditions will remain hazardous in many areas for some time, with the risk of surface flooding, slips, tree branches or even power lines down on the road. Please slow down and take extra care if you need to drive tonight or tomorrow.”

In Wellington, Featherston residents were urged to boil water before being used for

drinking, food preparation or brushing teeth.

This weekend’s unusually high rainfall has caused surface water to enter the Boar Bush reservoir, which has contaminated the water supply, Wellington Water said.

Many parts of the North Island and the upper half of the South Island were hit hard – the deluge has seen several households evacuated in Wellington overnight as landslides hit the area. Many roads are closed and surface flooding has been reported in some areas.

Fire and Emergency is continuing to get lots of 111 calls related to today’s wet weather.

This afternoon firefighters responded to more than 300 calls across the country – the majority in Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki and Wellington.

Most of the calls were to related to trees and power lines down.

Several houses have been evacuated following a slip at Plimmerton this morning. Photo / Natalie Akoorie
Several houses have been evacuated following a slip at Plimmerton this morning. Photo / Natalie Akoorie
Contractors begin clearing downed trees blocking Te Ohaki Rd north of Huntly. Photo / Mike Scott
Contractors begin clearing downed trees blocking Te Ohaki Rd north of Huntly. Photo / Mike Scott
A fallen tree has hit a car on Marshmeadow Rd between Cambridge and Taupiri. Photo / Colin Downing
A fallen tree has hit a car on Marshmeadow Rd between Cambridge and Taupiri. Photo / Colin Downing

Air New Zealand cancelled at least 100 flights due to the challenges with the cyclone, with further cancellations likely, the airline said.

“Most of the North Island is experiencing strong winds causing cancellations into and out of these regions. The challenging weather is expected to last through to tonight and the airline is working through recovery flights for impacted customers,” Air NZ said in a statement.

The airline said its contact centre is “experiencing a high volume of calls contributing to longer wait times”.

Man injured after tree falls on car in Raglan

There are reports a man has been taken to Waikato Hospital with serious injuries after a tree is believed to have fallen on his vehicle in Raglan.

Police said the incident was reported around 11.30am at Main Rd in Raglan.

“It is understood the vehicle was mobile at the time,” a police spokesperson said.

Here are some wind stats from 1pm https://t.co/ziBZZ8yIbP ^PL pic.twitter.com/Ptiuiu7ARy

— MetService (@MetService) February 13, 2022

In another incident, Auckland nurse Vinosh Kumar and two friends were driving to Hamilton when a large tree fell on their truck, a large trunk missing their vehicle by centimetres.

“Two more seconds and 100 per cent we’d be in hospital,” he told the Herald.

Kumar said he and his friends were stopped at a roundabout when they were struck.

“I thought we were going to die, that moment, it was the first in my lifetime … totally unexpected,” he said.

He could hear people screaming around him before a number of locals came out and helped free the truck from the branches.

No one was hurt and the vehicle was not damaged, he said.

Kumar and his friends drove off just as they heard emergency services arriving.

Auckland nurse Vinosh Kumar and two friends were driving to Hamilton when a large tree fell on their truck, a large trunk missing their vehicle by centimetres. Photo / Supplied
Auckland nurse Vinosh Kumar and two friends were driving to Hamilton when a large tree fell on their truck, a large trunk missing their vehicle by centimetres. Photo / Supplied

Strong wind warnings across the country

Earlier, strong wind warnings were issued for Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Coromandel, Great Barrier Island, Waikato, Hawke’s Bay, Taranaki, Tararua, Waitomo, Wairarapa, Wellington and Marlborough.

WeatherWatch’s Philip Duncan said the gusts were intense, with the risk of power cuts as trees fell victim to the wind. Some places had already seen gusts of more than 150km/h.

Power outages have been reported in New Plymouth, Kaitake, Kaupokonui, Hāwera, Normanby and Okiawa this morning due to high winds, the Taranaki Emergency Management Office has reported. Power is also out in parts of Northland and the Waikato.

When will the wind 🌬️ ease?

Short answer: this afternoon & evening

Our high-res model shows the forecast wind gusts from Cyclone #Dovi & the trend (⬇️ ) through late evening. pic.twitter.com/MyzcOWwBoo

— NIWA Weather (@NiwaWeather) February 12, 2022

“[We] are asking people in areas impacted by the bad weather to avoid non-essential travel,” police said in a statement on Sunday morning.

Heavy rain battered the lower North Island and the upper South Island last night and these areas are seeing more heavy rain today.

MetService said in the last 12 hours, Wellington recorded 109mm of rain, Lower Hutt 126mm, Kelburn 86mm and Wellington Airport 81mm. There have also been 121mm of rain in Masterton, and 130mm in Takaka Hill (Nelson).

SH1 AUCKLAND HARBOUR BRIDGE – 9:30AM

Due to heavy winds, the Auckland Harbour Bridge is now CLOSED. Please use an alternative route. Please refer to our traffic map for more info: https://t.co/nkeI0hItS3 ^DL pic.twitter.com/YFxeqlS2Nr

— Waka Kotahi NZTA Auckland & Northland (@WakaKotahiAkNth) February 12, 2022

There were more than 130 weather-related callouts overnight across the North Island.

MetService meteorologist Stephen Glassey said the worst was still to come, with Cyclone Dovi expected to make landfall between mid and late morning – latest forecasts have it hitting land in the northern Taranaki/Waitomo area.

Wellington, Wairarapa

Police said there were several landslips affecting houses in the greater Wellington region:

• A Houghton Bay home was damaged by a landslide this morning;

• A landslide came down against a house and road in Plimmerton with several other houses evacuated as a precaution;

• A large slip came down across three lanes of SH2 (Western Hutt Rd), Korokoro in Lower Hutt just before 12.30am. The northbound lanes are blocked and diversions are in place. The occupants of a house at the top of the slip were evacuated.

A car is upturned by a slip in Plimmerton as Cyclone Dovi causes mayhem as it passes over New Zealand. Photo / Dylan Hohepa
A car is upturned by a slip in Plimmerton as Cyclone Dovi causes mayhem as it passes over New Zealand. Photo / Dylan Hohepa
Several houses have been evacuated following a slip at Plimmerton this morning. Photo / Natalie Akoorie
Several houses have been evacuated following a slip at Plimmerton this morning. Photo / Natalie Akoorie

Two other roads have also been closed – a slip has closed State Highway 58 between Paremata and Haywards near Wellington. The slip was reported around 1.16am.

Fire and Emergency shift manager Belinda Beets says the most severe callouts of the 50 for central fire crews related to landslides that caused problems for property owners.

She says firefighters were mainly pumping water out of homes and making sure people were safe.

All Interislander sailings today have been cancelled due to the severe weather. The service may also be cancelled tomorrow and currently Interislander is not opening Monday morning sailings for bookings.

Wairarapa has a number of road closures in place due to slips, water breaking the banks of the Waipoua River and trees down. There is also localised flooding in streets throughout Masterton township.

Flooded paddock on Stronvar Rd outside Masterton as Cyclone Dovi passes over New Zealand. Photo / James Church
Flooded paddock on Stronvar Rd outside Masterton as Cyclone Dovi passes over New Zealand. Photo / James Church

A Carterton man called Emergency Services about 3.30am after his vehicle became trapped in deep water flooding Kokotau Rd. The man was able to get out of the vehicle and was not injured. The road is now closed.

The Waihenga Bridge, between Featherston and Martinborough on State Highway 53 in Wairarapa, has been closed until further notice due to rising water levels, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has reported.

The bridge was closed just before 1am.

Taranaki

People in Taranaki are being urged to hunker down due to ex tropical cyclone Dovi.

There’s surface flooding and closures on State Highways One and 45, and the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway is closed between the Wind Wand and East End.

Power outages are affecting many houses in the region, especially Hawera and along the Surf Highway, and some in central New Plymouth.

Emergency Management controller Sue Kelly said people shouldn’t travel unless they have to.

Kelly said there was a large amount of rain and wind this morning, but there was a slight lull right now. The eye of the storm’s expected to make landfall in the region this afternoon.

According to Kelly, South Taranaki appeared to have taken the brunt of the rain and wind.

Police across the Central District (Taranaki, Manawatu) received a number of calls for weather-related highway blockages and minor surface flooding.

There have already been multiple reports of surface flooding on State Highway 1 and State Highway 45 in the Taranaki region, the emergency management office said.

“Have a get ready kit handy with a few emergency supplies if the power goes out,” advised Taranaki Emergency Management Civil Defence Group Controller Todd Velvin, suggesting that everyone “hunker down and brace for the storm to pass”.

Auckland

Showers in the City of Sails will be accompanied by severe southwest gales later in the morning and into the afternoon.

Further power system faults in Auckland are expected as stormy weather continues.

A peak of around 20,000 customers were without power overnight which reduced to around 3,500 early this morning.

A boat has washed up on Manly Beach on Auckland's Whangaparaoa Peninsula as ex tropical cyclone Dovi causes chaos around the country. Photo /  Rach Dawson
A boat has washed up on Manly Beach on Auckland’s Whangaparaoa Peninsula as ex tropical cyclone Dovi causes chaos around the country. Photo / Rach Dawson

The number of customers experiencing outages will keep changing throughout the day and customers who have had power restored may lose it again.

Vector’s Marco Simunac says additional crews are out responding to faults and the focus is on rapidly and safely clearing debris from power lines and restoring power.

The impact of the high winds is being felt across the region – in Piha, plastic cladding on a major hillside construction site has been torn to shreds.

Northland

Around 5000 people are without power in Northland, and it could be out for some time, possibly into Monday.

Fire crews in the north of the country have had 86 weather-related callouts from Cape Reinga to Waikato between 6pm and 6am.

The wild weather brought down trees across the roads throughout the Northland District with more than 35 weather-related incidents reported to Police. This included reports of a tree falling and damaging a home in Kauri, Whangarei.

Police also received reports of several boats breaking free from moorings at Russell and Opua.

Waikato, central North Island

Trees are down across some roads in Waikato and police across the Central District (Taranaki, Manawatu) continue to receive calls for weather-related highway blockages and minor surface flooding.

Power is out in parts of Hamilton, Glen Murray, Raglan and Karamu.

South Island

Police in Marlborough are reporting surface flooding, tree fall and debris on the roads and urge people to delay travel while clean-up is under way.

Canterbury is experiencing localised flooding and State Highway 1 between Kaikōura and Waipara is closed due to flooding and slips. A detour is in place.

Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor has unlocked Government support for farmers and growers impacted on the West Coast and top of the South Island.

“We’re making $200,000 available for the local Rural Support Trusts and Mayoral Relief Funds to call on to help farmers and growers recover, with the majority on support efforts for the West Coast,” he said.

“The funding will help farmers and growers across Buller, Grey and Westland districts along with Nelson/Tasman and Marlborough districts, many of whom are facing a huge clean-up after the wettest February on record triggered widespread flooding.

“Floodwaters caused by two severe weather events in the space of a week have damaged infrastructure, farm buildings, and paddocks, left feed crops submerged and washed away bales of winter supplementary feed.”

A state of emergency remains in place across the Buller district on the West Coast.

Hundreds of people remain isolated north of Westport, cut off by slips and damage to State Highway 67, and support and medical supplies have been delivered by helicopter.

“The Government is closely watching the impact of Cyclone Dovi across the country today and will provide further support as needed,” O’Connor said.

Dovi’s track

Latest models last night put the cyclone, which started as a tropical low between Vanuatu and New Caledonia this week, on track to make landfall between New Plymouth and Kāwhia Harbour before moving eastward across the North Island.

It’s no longer tropical, but will still pack a punch and sparked wind and rain warnings from Auckland to the upper South Island last night, MetService forecaster Gerard Bellam said.

The centre of ex-tropical #CycloneDovi has made landfall in the North Island in Waitomo district.

At this stage the centre of the storm isn’t so intense, so worst winds remain around Auckland (westerlies) & Wellington (southerlies). Southerly gales will spread up the east later. pic.twitter.com/7gXQpNkcpB

— WeatherWatch.co.nz (@WeatherWatchNZ) February 12, 2022

“This is an evolving situation so I think the message is for everybody is just to keep an eye on our forecasts and just take heed from what the local authorities are saying.

“You wouldn’t be going out in a boat on the [North Island] west coast with the swell warnings and 50-knot winds if you had any sense.”

Wind watches have been issued for Northland, Coromandel Peninsula, Waikato (from Kāwhia Harbour to around Te Aroha northwards), Wellington, Marlborough Sounds, Tasman and Buller till late afternoon.

Taranaki residents are also in for a drenching this morning, with 130 to 220mm of rain expected to accumulate about Mt Taranaki as Dovi passes.

Low-lying areas can expect 50 to 100mm.

A couple walking along Auckland's waterfront this morning during high winds, which forced the closure of the Harbour Bridge. Photo / Alex Burton
A couple walking along Auckland’s waterfront this morning during high winds, which forced the closure of the Harbour Bridge. Photo / Alex Burton

Heavy rain warnings have also been issued for much of the central part of the country.

Taupō south of Tūrangi, the bottom of the North Island and the top of the South Island, including the Buller ranges are all in for a soaking, while watches have been issued for several other areas including Waitomo, Taumarunui, Whanganui, Manawatu and parts of Marlborough and north Canterbury.

In Wellington, where anti-mandate protesters have entered their sixth day camped on Parliament’s lawn, a miserable day has unfolded.

“We do well with big [weather] events in Wellington. And that’s the story [today]. We’ve got rain with heavy falls, gale southerlies gusting 110km/h and a forecast maximum temperature of 17C … it’ll feel colder though with that rain and wind.”

SEVERE WEATHER UPDATE

Cyclone Dovi is crossing the motu and warnings are in place for much of Aotearoa. Stay inside, don’t drive unless absolutely necessary. Follow your local CDEM group, @MetService and @NZTA

(pix: slip SH2 at Melling, Kerikeri, SH1 at Plimmerton, Taranaki) pic.twitter.com/Ce9bcUnj86

— National Emergency Management Agency (@NZcivildefence) February 12, 2022

Meanwhile, large waves coming from unusual direction were also expected in the western North Island from Taranaki south and in Nelson and Tasman bays.

Waves up to 5m were also forecast for Hawke’s Bay and the Gisborne area early on Monday morning as Cyclone Dovi moves away from New Zealand.

Tomorrow would also signal a welcome weather change for many, as the switch to southerly winds brought a refreshing change for those previously suffering under a conveyor belt of high humidity from the tropics.

Overnight minimums would fall to early and mid-teens in the North Island, a big change from the minimums in the 20s Aucklanders and others had been experiencing last week.

“Once the low moves away tonight and into tomorrow we’re getting into a much cooler southerly flow.

“The silver lining for Aucklanders is we’ll see this air mass change and it’ll be a whole lot easier to sleep going into the new week.”

Meanwhile, while those in the north will be grateful for the few degrees of reprieve from the heat, one South Island alpine pass is expecting a bit more – snow.

In the six hours to 11am today between 3 and 8cm of snow is expected to fall near the summit of Lewis Pass, in the central South Island north-west of Hanmer Springs.

Lesser amounts of snow may also fall down to 800m, MetService said.

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