Cyclone Gita has begun to hit NZ and it's expected to turn rush hour to chaos and force evacuations.
The cyclone swept across the Pacific last week, bringing destruction and devastation to Tonga and Samoa. It's now expected to slam into New Zealand's southern North Island and the northern half of the South Island.
Motorists are urged to delay travel, with roads expected to close in major urban centres. The NZTA says driving conditions are likely to be treacherous in many affected areas, with heavy rain and very strong winds.
The Marlborough District Council has warned campers and boaties to leave the area immediately.
What you need to know:
- Gale-force gusts, slips, flooding and coastal inundation is predicted
- Civil Defence staff have been pre-deployed to the areas that will be worst affected
- New Zealanders are being urged to prepare emergency evacuation plans and have a grab-bag ready
- People have been advised not to travel during the storm, and several schools have been closed
At 2:51pm on Tuesday: A State of Emergency has been declared in Christchurch
Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel has declared a State of Emergency for Christchurch City, which includes Banks Peninsula, due to the impacts of ex-tropical Cyclone Gita.
Latest forecasts show the region is set for heavy rain and high winds, with potentially serious impacts. Banks Peninsula is expected to bear the brunt of the storm.
The declaration highlights the severity of the potential impacts of the weather, and gives people early warning to prepare.
“The full impact of the storm will be felt overnight and tomorrow morning. We are expecting homes to be flooded. If you are in a flood-prone area, particularly if your home was flooded, or close to flooding, in the July storm last year, you should consider evacuation before the worst of the storm hits tonight,” Ms Dalziel says.
“Part of Clarendon Terrace has been closed already, and we expect further streets to close over the course of the afternoon and evening. These will not reopen until the risk of flooding has gone.”
People in low-lying areas should move valuable possessions up high, and move cars to higher ground.