Auckland floods live: Worst of 'atmospheric river' to hit city after ...
Red heavy rain warnings issued for Northland, Auckland, Coromandel. Video / Auckland Emergency Management
An atmospheric river bearing down on the upper North Island is likely to hit Auckland hardest between midnight and dawn, a forecaster says, with the added potential of severe gales in some places.
Niwa forecaster Ben Noll said that, while he didn’t expect this system’s rainfall across Auckland to be as “prolific” as Friday’s deluge was, it could exacerbate flood woes in the already-soaked city.
“We could very well see some high intensities in the pre-dawn hours in Auckland on Wednesday - perhaps as much as 25mm/h for a period of time,” Noll said.
“This could leave Auckland in rough shape ahead of the morning commute.”
The worst of the incoming front, fuelled by a subtropical low-pressure system parked just off the country, was expected to hit Northland this afternoon.
Much of the region - which MetService has placed under a Red Warning for heavy rain until 4am tomorrow - has already been soaked by overnight downpours that brought as much as 50mm to some places.
????Thunder and lightning????Heavy rain????Strong winds???? Large swell
There is plenty of weather happening across New Zealand for the next few days. Here's a brief rundown.
Find the full details at https://t.co/oKYtrol7HA pic.twitter.com/N9oSkCpRNd— MetService (@MetService) January 30, 2023
This system, however, could bring Northland 100mm to 140mm of rain in the north and east - with some areas possibly receiving as much 140mm to 220mm - in a 24-hour period.
At their hardest, the downpours could reach peak rates of 10mm/h to 20mm/h in the northeast of the region - including localised rain hitting volumes as high as 40mm or more per hour.
There was also currently a moderate risk of severe thunderstorms for Northland, possibly driving localised downpours of 25mm per hour to 40mm/h.
“Rainfall of this intensity can cause surface and/or flash flooding, especially about low-lying areas such as streams, rivers or narrow valleys, and may also lead to slips,” MetService reported.
????Blocking high pressure to the east????Newly deepened low pressure west of Northland☔️Atmospheric river connects tropics with upper North Island????Windy ENE 'squash zone' developing in upper North Islandhttps://t.co/gb7E1quzdb / https://t.co/D35ySCkVqG pic.twitter.com/sLdUBmkKoA— WeatherWatch.co.nz (@WeatherWatchNZ) January 30, 2023
From 5pm tonight, meanwhile, as much as 80mm to 120mm could be dumped on the Auckland region north of Ōrewa over 15 hours - with the potential for thunderstorms and localised downpours of 25mm/h to 40mm/h.
The deluge was expected to swell rivers and cause “significant” flooding, MetService warned.
“Slips and floodwaters are likely to disrupt travel, making some roads impassable and possibly isolating communities.”
After the front moved further southward later this evening, totals of 50mm to 80mm could drop over the Auckland region from Ōrewa southwards from 6pm, with an Orange heavy rain warning in place overnight Tuesday and Wednesday.
“While there will be some rain before nightfall in Auckland, the heaviest is going to happen overnight,” Noll said.
Peak rates were forecast to reach up 20mm/h, while some isolated spots - especially in the north - could see up to 40mm/h.
Northland and Auckland have also been placed under a Strong Wind Watch until early tomorrow morning, with strong northeast winds potentially rising to severe gale in exposed places.
Strong wind gusts will be a facet to this significant weather event.
Modelling, both internal & external, are indicating the potential for locally damaging wind gusts.
These very strong gusts (????) will likely be where intense rain or thunderstorms occur. pic.twitter.com/aALLGaXHSk— NIWA Weather (@NiwaWeather) January 30, 2023
“What can happen during intense periods of rain, some of that really strong wind can be mixed or brought down to the surface - and that is a concern for overnight tonight and into early Wednesday morning,” Noll said.
Potential thunderstorms also carried the risk of wind shear - or a sudden change in wind direction or velocity - which may create severe wind speeds in some areas.
“If we do see thunderstorm activity, this could bring potentially damaging winds to parts of the region – so it’s certainly no time to let your guard down.”
Noll said that, like Friday’s system, the coming system would also include a feature called a low-level jet – or a ribbon of strong wind in the atmosphere, positioned not far above the surface.
On Friday, it ran north-to-south across the city and helped dump rain over much of the urban area.
Tomorrow morning, it appeared the jet would be moving faster, and running more northeast to southwest.
“That means there’ll be less of the region exposed to extreme weather at any one time,” Noll said.
???? Severe Weather Update
Further heavy rain for northern New Zealand along with possible severe gale northeasterlies.
The latest Severe Weather Warnings have been issued.
Please keep up to date with the latest information at https://t.co/qHyE5zzql5 pic.twitter.com/Csac2qM1qj— MetService (@MetService) January 30, 2023
Elsewhere, Coromandel - also under a Red warning - could receive 100 to 150 mm about the ranges, with lesser amounts about the coast, between 10pm tonight and 3pm tomorrow.
Those downpours could come with peak rates of 15mm to 25mm - especially about the ranges - along with thunderstorms, flooding, slips and rising rivers.
Adding to the weather woes, MetService has also warned the system could bring waves as high as 4 metres at times in northern regions.
On top of heavy rain & strong winds forecast over the northeast of the North Island today waves are expected to rise to 4m for a time over these coasts for a time today ????
This could exacerbate poor conditions already expected over these regions https://t.co/y7sa5Ofj1O pic.twitter.com/d6jOu2qPKY— MetService (@MetService) January 30, 2023
In Waikato, where rainfall could reach warning criteria in some places, a Heavy Rain Watch is in place between 2am and 3pm tomorrow.
Further east, the Bay of Plenty west of Whakatane was under an Orange Heavy Rain warning – with totals of 100mm to 150mm, and peak rates of 15mm/h to 25mm/h, possible between 3am and 9pm tomorrow.
Heavy Rain Watches have also been issued for Mt Taranaki tomorrow, for much of Westland over Thursday and Friday, and for Canterbury High Country, Central Otago, Clutha, Southland this afternoon and into the evening.