Heavy rain warnings in the north of the country, winds could close the Auckland Harbor Bridge

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

People in northern New Zealand are being urged to prepare for heavy rains to hit the country over Auckland’s anniversary weekend.

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

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

There was also a heavy rain watch and a strong wind watch for Auckland.

Waka Kotahi has posted a strong wind watch on the Harbor Bridge, with gusts of 40-50 km/hr, tightening to 50-60 km/hr tonight.

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

There is an orange warning for tomorrow, with winds of 90 km/h for tomorrow from 07:00 to 12:00. Under this warning, speeds are reduced and lanes may be closed.

And predicted winds of 90-100 km/h with a risk of 110 km/h would send a red alert from noon to 10 pm, closing all lanes on the bridge.

Scheduled nightly maintenance has also been moved to Sunday due to weather conditions.

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

“More cars on the road, tired drivers and people driving on unfamiliar roads can make driving on vacation stressful and risky,” said Steve Mutton, director of regional relations for Waka Kotahi.

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“Checking that your car is safe before you travel, keeping your speed down, driving sober, watching for signs of fatigue and sharing the drive are just some of the things you can do to make sure you get to your destination safely arrives.”

Mt Taranaki could see heavy rain.

MetService said the moist northerly current that has set up over the country was here for the long haul and warm air from the north will raise temperatures.

“It’s going to be a very wet start to Auckland’s anniversary weekend,” said MetService meteorologist Jessie Owen.

“Heavy rains can cause flooding and slippage and make travel dangerous, so if you’re planning to go away for a long weekend, it’s a good idea to keep track of the weather forecast and maybe consider postponing your trip.”

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Moist air from the north could bring even more heavy downpours to northern areas and west of the South Isalnd next week, Owen said.

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

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

Several maritime warnings had been issued, with gale warnings 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’

Due to upcoming weather, Surf Lifesaver chief executive Matt Williams has issued an urgent appeal for people to exercise caution around the water.

Watching your kids from shore just wasn’t enough, he said.

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

“If you’re going to enjoy the water on a ship, make sure you check with your Coast Guard to get up-to-date safety messages.”

The Auckland Regatta

The 183rd running of the Auckland Regatta, taking place on Monday, is the largest one-day sailing regatta in the world, dating back to Auckland’s founding in 1840.

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

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“A decision will not be made until early Monday morning, but the Regatta has never been canceled before.

“It is primarily the responsibility of each boat and skipper to choose whether or not to participate”.

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

“This includes the Coast Guard, Harbor Master, Maritime, Police and all yacht clubs involved.”

Tonight a decision would be made on whether or not the regatta in Mahurangi East will take place.

“For the Mahurangi Regatta, a number of water activities have already been canceled due to large swells”.

The shore events, activities and award ceremony had already been cancelled.

A busy weekend for Tauranga

Meanwhile, Tauranga is packed this long weekend.

One Love, Tauranga’s homegrown reggae festival, will draw around 20,000 music lovers to the city center this weekend.

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

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

Surf Lifesaving CEO Matt Williams said about 700 lifeguards would participate.

There would be road closures to support event activity and safe pedestrian access.

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