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Heavy rain warnings in place across north of country, winds could close Auckland Harbour Bridge

A graphic showing the map of New Zealand with rain, pressure and wind sitting above the North Island.

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Rain, pressure and wind forecast for Saturday 28 January, 2023.
Photo: Screenshot / MetService

People in northern New Zealand are being urged to prepare for heavy rain which is set to hit the country for Auckland Anniversary weekend.

MetService has issued heavy rain and strong wind warnings for parts of the North Island.

Significant rainfall was expected in Northland, Coromandel Peninsula and western Bay of Plenty this weekend.

A heavy rain watch and strong wind watch were also in place for Auckland.

Waka Kotahi has placed a strong wind watch on the Harbour Bridge, with winds gusting 40-50km/hr, strengthening this evening to 50-60 km/hr.

Drivers of high sided vehicles and motorcyclists are advised to avoid the bridge.

An amber alert is in place for tomorrow, with 90kmh winds forecast tomorrow from 7am to midday. Under this alert speeds are reduced and lanes may close.

And forecast winds of 90-100kmh with a risk of 110kmh would signal a red alert from midday to 10pm, closing all lanes on the bridge.

Aucklanders planning to travel on Friday should consider delaying as the weather would mean an increased risk of delays, especially around Coromandel, MetService said.

Mt Taranaki could see heavy rain.

MetService said the humid northerly flow set up over the country was here for the long run and warm air from the north will raise termperatures.

“It is going to be a very wet start to Auckland Anniversary weekend,” MetService meteorologist Jessie Owen said.

“Heavy rain could cause flooding and slips and make travel hazardous so if you’re planning on heading away for the long weekend it’s a good idea to keep up with the forecasts and perhaps consider delaying your travel.”

The humid air from the north could bring further bouts of heavy rain to northern areas, and to the west of the South Isalnd, into next week, Owen said.

Coastal water temperatures were warmer than what were expected for this time of the year, MetService said.

Severe marine heatwaves were present in Cook Strait, Chatham Islands, Banks Peninsula and Stewart Island.

Several marine warnings had been issued, with gale warnings in place for Bay of Islands, Bream Head to Cape Coville and Puysegur, and strong wind advisories for Hauraki Gulf, Waitematā Harbour, Manukau Harbour, Coromandel and Bay of Plenty.

‘Swim between the flags’

As a result of incoming weather, Surf Lifesaving chief executive Matt Williams has issued an urgent plea for people to take care around the water.

Watching your kids from the shore simply was not enough, he said.

“Swim between the flags at a patrolled location during patrol hours – if you can’t, don’t get in the water.

“If you’re going to enjoy the water on a vessel, make sure you check in with your coast guard to get up to date safety messages”.

Auckland Regatta

The 183rd edition of the Auckland Regatta, set to take place Monday, is the largest single-day yachting regatta in the world, dating back to the founding of Auckland in 1840.

Event organiser Chris Collins said the weather doesn’t look too bad for Monday but they were keeping a close eye on things.

“There won’t be any decision made until early Monday morning, but the Regatta has never been cancelled before.

“It’s primarily the responsibility of any boat and skipper to choose to take part or not”.

Organisers had a substantial safety plan put in place for Monday’s big event, he said.

“That includes the coast guards, harbour master, maritime, police and all the yacht clubs involved.”

A decision would be made tonight about whether the regatta in Mahurangi East would be cancelled.

“A number of water activities have already been cancelled for the Mahurangi Regatta due to large swells”.

The shore events, activities and prizegiving had already been cancelled.

A busy weekend for Tauranga

Meanwhile, Tauranga will be jam-packed this long weekend.

One Love, Tauranga’s homegrown reggae festival, attracts approximately 20,000 music-lovers to the city centre over the weekend.

For the sports fans, the Vantage Black Sticks take on Spain.

The Surf Life Saving Eastern Regional Championships begin on Friday and the Volleyball NZ Secondary Schools Championships take place from Saturday.

Surf Lifesaving chief executive Matt Williams said approximately 700 life guards would be competing.

Road closures would be in place to support event operations and safe pedestrian access.

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