21 Feb 2018

Tuesday recap: Thousands without power as Gita hits

4:36 am on 21 February 2018

Thousands are without power and states of emergency have been delcared as Cyclone Gita bears down on the country. Look back on RNZ's live Tuesday coverage.

Cyclone Gita is making landfall in the upper NW South Island tonight.

Cyclone Gita is making landfall in the upper NW South Island tonight. Photo: WeatherWatch

WeatherWatch says after landfall - which occurs when the centre of the low crosses land - Gita will split into two centres over the next few hours: one on the western side of the South Island, the other to the east of the South Island.

The Christchurch City, Taranaki, Nelson Tasman, Buller, Westland, Grey and Selwyn councils have all declared states of emergency as cyclone Gita brings heavy rain, high winds and sea surges to central New Zealand.

MetService says the very worst of the weather is likely over, and conditions are expected to ease as Gita moves away on Wednesday.

What you need to know:

  • The storm approaching New Zealand has changed its course slightly, moving further south.
  • Defence Force personnel have been deployed to the areas expected to be hardest hit by former tropical cyclone Gita.
  • Air New Zealand is warning of severe disruptions to flights at five airports.
  • A state of emergency has now been declared in the Taranaki region, in addition to Christchurch, Buller, Grey District, Selwyn District, Westland District and the Nelson Tasman region.
  • Nearly 200 schools and pre-schools nationwide are closed, with more than 20,000 students affected.
  • About 4000 properties in the Tasman District are now without power and evacuation centres have been opened.
  • And 23,000 homes in Taranaki are also without power.
  • State Highway 6 is closed between Westport and Greymouth on the South Island's West Coast due to flooding.
  • State Highway 1 is closed north and south of Kaikōura.
  • State highway 1 in Wellington is down to one lane near the intersection of Cobham Drive and Evans Bay Parade due to surface flooding.
  • Port Taranaki and Port of Westport have closed.
  • Metservice is warning strong winds and heavy swells will batter parts of the country this evening and into tomorrow morning.
  • The latest severe weather update upgraded watches for heavy rain in Christchurch, Banks Peninsula and North Otago to full warnings.
  • Rain warnings had already been issued for Nelson and Buller, Malborough including the Kaikōura Coast, Wellington and the Kāpiti Coast, Canterbury, and the ranges of Westland.
  • Niwa is predicting gusts up to between 130 and 150km/h will peak around 10.30pm.

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