17 Mar 2014

Lusi's tail moves away

1:24 pm on 17 March 2014

MetService says the remains of Cyclone Lusi brought gale force winds and heavy rain across Cook Strait and the Nelson Marlborough region overnight but the worst of the weather system has passed.

The tail of the cyclone that killed three people in Vanuatu passed over New Zealand at the weekend.

MetService says strong winds would remain over Cook Strait as Lusi's low pulled away and the west of the South Island could expect a new front, bringing heavy rain, on Monday afternoon.

Wild surf at Whangarei Heads on Saturday.

Wild surf at Whangarei Heads on Saturday. Photo: RNZ / Lois Williams

The Fire Service received about a dozen calls regarding minor weather-related incidents in the lower North Island overnight Sunday, including part of a roof lifting off a house under construction in the Lower Hutt suburb of Eastbourne.

Nelson Tasman Civil Defence says some clean-up of surface flooding, fallen trees and debris on roads is required but overall the region came through quite well.

Group controller Alec Louverdis told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme the storm behaved exactly as predicted, with quite intensive rain as the front moved across from Tasman to Nelson about 9pm on Sunday.

He said rivers swelled but none reached more than their annual flood level and then started dropping. "All in all, a good evening."

Top half of NI returns to normal

In Auckland, where thousands of people lost power at times over the weekend, lines company Vector has restored services to about 70 homes still cut off on Sunday evening.

Civil Defence officials in Northland say the storm swept through as forecasts predicted.

Winds gusted up 120 kilometres an hour, sending trees and even a shed flying into power lines. The waterfront road in Paihia, in the Bay of Islands, was closed because of storm surges.

But Graeme MacDonald from Northland Civil Defence says the region got off lightly and it would have been much worse if Lusi made a direct hit. He says the forecast can't be faulted.

Hectic weekend for firefighters

Altogether, the Fire Service attended about 200 calls in the top half of the North Island over the weekend, with trees and power lines downed and roofs lifted by gusts of more than 100 kilometres per hour, accompanied by heavy rain.

Fire Service spokesperson Paul Radden says in the 24 hours from midnight Friday staff attended predominantly wind-related calls.

More than 7000 households, mostly in Auckland's northern suburbs, were without electricity at some point on Saturday, as repair crews struggled with high winds. About 50 coastal homes were prepared for evacuation due to high swells, but were unaffected.

Auckland Council Civil Defence says, however, Auckland weathered the storm system with minimal damage.

Controller Clive Manley says the city was well prepared. He says contractors cleared debris throughout the day on Saturday with storm water contractors also out and about and lines staff working hard to fix power cuts, within two to three hours in most cases.

In Bay of Plenty, there was some minor stormwater flooding and wind damage.

Power was cut to more than 7000 households in Christchurch on Sunday morning after a fault at the Heathcote substation.

About 1600 homes in the Lyttelton and Port Levy areas remained without power until about 7pm. A new fault then left about 100 homes without power in Rakaia on Sunday evening.