Cyclone Gita LATEST: New Zealand braces for storm as residents urged to PREPARE for worst
Weather bosses warn that Cyclone Gita has the south island of New Zealand in the “firing line” before the storm makes landfall in the northwest tip of the island on Tuesday evening.
The latest update from the MetService said the storm was “expected to bring a period of high-impact severe weather to many parts of central New Zealand”.
The storm, which was recently upgraded to category five, has already caused widespread damage in Tonga, Samoa and American Samoa.
Regions including Canterbury, Marlborough, Nelson, parts of the West Coast, Wellington and Horowhenua are expected to be lashed by more than 100 millimetres of rainfall in just 24 hours.
The MetService warning reads: "Heavy rain will cause slips, rapidly rising streams and rivers, and flooding.
“Severe gales with damaging gusts are expected, so people are advised to secure property and items that may be blown away by strong winds.”
MetService said the coast would be inundated with high tide overnight on Tuesday and dawn on Wednesday “due to the combination of tides, low-air pressure, strong onshore winds and large waves in excess of six metres in some places”.
Nick Zacher, MetService meteorologist, said: "It's moving quite fast, it's going to accelerate further through the next 24 - 48 hours.
“Once it does move through it’s going to start clearing off the country just as fast.”
Local council officials in Marlborough have urged residents to stock up on supplies and even warned campers and people in boats to leave the district.
Marlborough District Council official, Glyn Waters said: “Some locals need to be prepared to be isolated for some days due to expected road slips, and therefore they could leave today if that suited them. This depends on their circumstances."
Head forecaster at WeatherWatch, Phillip Duncan, warned of ferocious gale-force winds of 60 to 80kmh from Taranaki to Westpor.