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Ex-tropical cyclone Fehi hits New Zealand, combines with kind tides


Remnants of Tropical Cyclone "Fehi" slammed into New Zealand's South Island on Thursday, February 1, 2018, and combined with king tides to trigger heavy flooding in some regions. Numerous trees and power lines were downed as winds up to 140 km/h (87 mph) and gusts to 160 km/h (99 mph) swept across the region, leaving thousands of homes without power and flights grounded.

At least 2 000 homes in Fox Glacier and Ingahua lost power and another 3 500 in Hokitika, Hari Hari and Whataroa. Entire Glenduan lost power, over 500 homes in Christchurch (mostly around the Port Hills, including Charteris Bay, Governors Bay and Lyttleton) and about 300 in Coromandel (Port Jackson and Little Bay).

A state of emergency was declared in Dunedin, the second largest city in South Island, after more than 100 mm (3.9 inches) of rain fell in 15 hours, causing sewage overflows. Its City Council began evacuating residents late afternoon when about 800 homes were at risk of flooding. 

Buller District also declared a state of emergency and its Civil Defence warned Westport residents that floodwaters may be contaminated, urging them to avoid them due to health and safety risk. 

Hundreds of trees have come down in Westland on the West Coast. Westland Mayor Bruce Smith describes the carnage, telling Radio New Zealand he's never seen anything like this:

Westland District Council reported at least 115 people were stranded overnight in their cars near Fox Glacier. "They will receive assistance as a priority first thing in the morning as conditions allow," the council said, adding that they are in no immediate danger. "They have water and shelter."

A small tornado was reported Thursday by a Blaketown resident.

Nelson authorities ordered a major evacuation in face of storm surges and high tides after 35 mm (1.3 inches) of rain fell in 2 hours.

Wellington recorded winds up to 140 km/h (87 mph), causing major flight disruptions and canceling ferries.

Waitara residents were told to evacuate homes as a precaution against flooding.

Strong gusty northerlies, heavy rain and king tides closed Tamaki Drive in Auckland between Ngapipi Road and CBD (Hobson Bay area), causing major disruption for drivers.

Heavy rain for the west coast of the South Island and central parts of the North Island easing Friday morning. Severe gales for much of the country have eased.

"A major storm is weakening overnight tonight and Friday morning, meanwhile its associated front moves east across the North Island," MetService said 21:27 NZDT, February 1 (08:27 UTC). "This storm and front should bring further periods of heavy rain to the northwest of the South Island and the central areas of the North Island till Friday morning."

The heaviest rain is expected in Westland, Buller, the ranges of northwest Nelson and Canterbury High Country, also Waikato, Waitomo, Taumarunui, Taupo and Taihape including Tongariro National Park, Bay of Plenty and the ranges of Gisborne. A heavy rain warning is still in force for these areas.

Heavy rain has eased in Fiordland, Southland, Otago, Marlborough and eastern Nelson, and the heavy rain Warning for these areas is now lifted, the service added.

Severe gale force winds have eased in Westland, Buller, Canterbury High Country, Nelson, Marlborough, Wellington and southern Taranaki, and the strong wind Warning for these areas is now lifted.

Featured image credit: Leroy Bull Photography

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