New Zealand - Cyclone Hola

12 Mar 2018

Hola has become an extratropical low as it continues to track southeastward in the Pacific Ocean early March 12. As of 1700 NZDT, the storm was 829 km (515 miles) north of Auckland. The system is forecast to weaken further as it approaches New Zealand's North Island; Hola is not projected to make landfall but will pass just east of the country, bringing strong wind gusts and heavy rainfall to the northern and eastern regions of the island through March 13. 

MetService has issued a heavy rain watch for Auckland, Bay of Plenty west of Te Puke, Hawkes Bay north of Hastings, and Waikato through at least the evening of March 12. Meteorologists predict downpours of 2-3.5 cm per hour are possible in some areas. Flooding is likely, especially in eastern regions of the island, including western Bay of Plenty, Coromandel Peninsula, and Gisborne. Hola has the potential to exacerbate flooding conditions in North Island as the ground is already saturated; heavy rainfall recently prompted some localized evacuations in the Hawke's Bay area, and water levels on the Esk River have reached their highest levels since 2010. Mudslides are also likely, especially in mountainous and hilly areas. Strong wind gusts up are also forecast in northern North Island and could down power lines and trees leading to power outages. High waves are also projected and could cause coastal flooding in some areas, though meteorologists say the threat is reduced due to low tides. 

The severe weather will likely cause transport disruptions across much of North Island, including in the Auckland metropolitan area. Flight cancellations and delays are likely at Auckland (AKL), some disruptions may also occur at Wellington (WLG) and smaller regional airports. Flooding and landslides may disrupt ground travel on highways and secondary routes. Public transport will likely continue operating, but cancellations or delays on bus routes and rail lines are possible. Authorities will probably cancel ferry sailings until high winds and waves subside. Localized evacuations are possible in low-lying and flood-prone areas. Business disruptions and school closures may occur in some areas. Strong wind gusts may also result in utility disruptions. 


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