Wellington missed the worst of Cyclone Cook overnight, as the storm weakened and changed its course.
Cyclone Cook centred over northern Wairarapa at 1am. Moving south to pass east of Wellington at 3am and Kaikoura at 6am, but weakening. ^SWF
— MetService (@MetService) April 13, 2017
Cyclone Cook lying just off the South Wairarapa coast at 3am. Moving south and weakening. Strongest winds now offshore.
— MetService (@MetService) April 13, 2017
News from MetService – April 13
The centre of Cyclone Cook lay about 100km east of Whitianga in the Coromandel Peninsula at 3pm today, and is expected to make landfall over the Bay of Plenty between Tauranga and Whakatane about 6pm this evening, then move southwards reaching Wellington or Wairarapa in the early hours of Friday morning.
On this track, damaging severe gales with gusts of 140 km/h are possible in Wellington and on the Kapiti Coast.
Heavy rain has eased over Northland and the warning there is 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.
Driving conditions are likely to be hazardous, so people will need to take extra care on the roads, and consider altering their Easter travel plans.
The precise track of the cyclone may change as the storm approaches.
Civil Defence is advising against travel to the Coromandel until at least Saturday and if people do decide to make the journey they must be prepared to be turned back, be isolated and have their journeys severely disrupted.
Cyclone Cook has been reclassified as an extra-tropical low but MetService will continue to refer to it as Cyclone Cook until there are no longer any impacts expected on New Zealand.
News from NZ Transport Agency
The NZ Transport Agency is encouraging people to take the severe weather forecast into account when planning road trips over the next couple of days.
“The MetService is warning of strong winds and heavy rain for most of the North Island from Thursday onwards. This will coincide with when many people are planning to travel over the Easter break,” Mark Owen, Transport Agency Regional Performance Manager, says. “As weather and road conditions can change rapidly, check conditions before you travel, and consider delaying your journey to and around areas forecast to be significantly impacted by the severe weather.”
“If you do travel, allow extra time. Be prepared for challenging driving conditions, including debris on the road, and possible detours and road closures. Storm conditions such as wind gusts can also affect high-sided vehicles, motorcyclists, and cyclists.”
Transport Agency contractors will be monitoring road and weather conditions so they can quickly respond to flooding, slips and rock falls.
“With Easter and Anzac Day coinciding with the school holidays this year, we expect there may be more holiday traffic heading out of and into Wellington than usual,” Mr Owen says.
Easter will be the first holiday weekend since the Mackays to Peka Peka section of Kapiti Expressway opened to traffic.
“The Kāpiti Expressway is a new road layout. Where the Expressway links in to the existing network, we want to reinforce that people need to show courtesy and merge like a zip to help traffic keep flowing.”
“We will also monitor traffic and close passing lanes to help traffic flow safely. The lanes will be signposted and fenced off with traffic cones,” Mr Owen says.
On State Highway 2, motorists will notice a change to the road layout from Saturday at the new State Highway 2/State Highway 58 Haywards Interchange.
The whole interchange project is due to be complete in July but in order to finish the last stages of construction, motorists will be moved onto the new layout on Saturday, depending on the weather.
“There’ll be plenty of signage to guide you, and a lower speed limit will be in place to allow everyone to get used to the new layout, and the on and off-ramps.”
A poll conducted by the Transport Agency on social media indicated that three quarters of Wellington respondents plan to travel on Thursday (32 percent) and Friday (41 percent). Coming back, 43 percent plan to travel on 16 April, Easter Monday.
www.nzta.govt.nz/hotspots indicates the busiest times on the Wellington region’s state highways, based on past traffic patterns.
“As well as checking the weather and road conditions, make sure you and your vehicle are both in good shape, and if your journey is going to be a long one, take plenty of breaks or share the driving. We want everyone to have a safe and happy holiday break,” Mr Owen says.