New Zealand – Cyclone Cook Prompts Evacuations

Heavy rain, 5 metre high waves and winds of up to 150km/h lashed parts of New Zealand as Cyclone Cook swept across the North Island.

States of emergency have been declared in the Coromandel Peninsula and Bay of Plenty, with some calls for evacuations particularly in coastal areas where high waves were expected. Auckland however, has been spared the worst of the severe weather.

This is the second major storm in the region within the space of 2 weeks. Communities in the Bay of Plenty in particular suffered major flooding in the wake of Ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie. Further heavy rain falling on already saturated ground is a major cause for concern.

Tropical Cyclone Cook caused death and destruction earlier this week as it passed over Vanuatu and New Caledonia.

The storm has now been downgraded to an Ex-Tropical Cyclone and is expected to head south and heavy rain is forecast for wide areas of South Island, in particular Marlborough, Nelson and parts of Tasman, which could see rainfall in excess of 150 mm.

Coromandel Peninsula

A statement from Thames-Coromandel District Council earlier today said:

“Ex-Tropical Cyclone Cook passed to the east of the Coromandel Peninsula without making landfall. The heavy rain warning is still in place across the region…”

Parts of the Peninsula were expected to receive 150 to 205 mm of rain from Wednesday to midnight Thursday, along with winds of up to 150km/h or more possible from Thursday afternoon with large waves of 5 metres or more.

The council added, “With the rainfall levels on already saturated ground, adverse impacts could include effects on the road network, infrastructure, buildings and the possibility of communities becoming temporarily isolated.”

The Thames-Coromandel District is still in a state of Emergency until further notice.

“There is no longer a call for evacuations, but suggest that those that have evacuated to stay where they are if they feel safe and comfortable to do so and plan to head home tomorrow morning,” says Thames Valley Civil Defence Manager Helen Flynn.

Bay of Plenty

Earlier today Whakatane District Council evacuated some coastal properties in Ōhope due to the extreme risk of storm surges and coastal inundation.

Later the council added that “1,600 people in Edgecumbe had been displaced by the breaching of the floodwall on the Rangitāiki River.”

“The Edgecumbe township was cordoned off to ensure public safety while pumping was in progress and to protect people from sanitation risks associated with sewage system failures and surface water contamination.

“Due to the risk of contamination from flood waters, there is a boil water notice in effect for Tanuatua, Ruatoki and Rangitaiki Plains.”

Cook Heads South

As the rain and severe weather eases in the north,the storm is expected to move south.  New Zealand Meteorological Service said:

“The centre of Cyclone Cook lay close to Rotorua at 8pm (20:00 local time) Thursday and is expected to move southwards reaching Wairarapa in the early hours of Friday morning. On this track, damaging severe gales with gusts of 140 km/h or more are possible, affecting regions from Gisborne down to Wellington.

“Heavy rain has eased over Auckland, Great Barrier Island, Coromandel Peninsula and Bay of Plenty and the warnings there are now lifted. Heavy rain further south should gradually ease from the north over the next 12 hours. The centre of the low is now far enough east of Auckland that the risk of severe gales there has eased and the wind warning for Auckland is now lifted.

“People should be aware that this is a very significant event and is likely to produce widespread flooding, slips and wind damage, including to powerlines and may even lift roofs and bring down large trees. Driving conditions are likely to be hazardous, so people will need to take extra care on the roads, and even consider altering their Easter travel plans.”

Expected track of Ex Cyclone Cook. Image: New Zealand Meteorological Service

Rainfall

24 hour period 12 to 13 April, 2017. Figures according to WMO.

  • Purerua – 69 mm
  • Tauranga – 82 mm
  • Westport aerodrome – 51 mm

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Flood summary

Last updated: April 13, 2017
Event
Tropical Cyclone Cook, New Caledonia and New Zealand, April 2017
Date
April 8, 2017
Type
Flash flood, Landslide, River flood, Storm surge
Cause
Extreme rainfall

Locations

A - Poindimié (New Caledonia)
B - Thio (New Caledonia)
C - Ouvéa (New Caledonia)
D - Kouaoua (New Caledonia)
E - Ōhope (New Zealand)
F - Edgecumbe (New Zealand)

Magnitude

Rainfall level
91 mm in 24 hours
La Tontouta, New Caledonia - April 10 to April 11, 2017
Rainfall level
109 mm in 24 hours
Ouloup (Ile Ouvea), New Caledonia - April 10 to April 11, 2017
Rainfall level
76 mm in 24 hours
Ouanaham (Ile Lifou), New Caledonia - April 10 to April 11, 2017
Rainfall level
69 mm in 24 hours
Purerua, New Zealand - April 12 to April 13, 2017
Rainfall level
82 mm in 24 hours
Tauranga, New Zealand - April 12 to April 13, 2017
Rainfall level
51 mm in 24 hours
Westport, New Zealand - April 12 to April 13, 2017

Damages

Injured
4 people
April 10 to April 11, 2017
Missing people
1 person
Kouaoua - April 10 to April 11, 2017
Evacuated
2,000
Bay of Plenty, New Zealand - April 13 to April 13, 2017