Tonga: Cyclone Gita - Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) DREF n° MDRTO001

Huge winds and heavy rain are expected in the Marlborough Sounds as Gita hits

Heavy rain was likely to fall over the South Island from Westland and Canterbury north.

The Marlborough District Council says the heavy rain could cause slips, and waterways to rise rapidly.

The council says this is a significant storm with potential for severe gale-force winds, risky storm surges and waves causing coastal inundation and flooding, and heavy rain causing rapidly rising streams and rivers, causing flooding. There would be severe gales with damaging gusts, and high tide hitting overnight on Tuesday could bring waves larger than 6m high.

NIWA forecaster Chris Brandolino told Kate Hawkesby today will be the calm before the storm.

For the South Island, the risk of coastal inundation is greatest for areas from Buller and North Canterbury northwards. With this very tightly packed and deep low comes very strong winds and very heavy rain for central parts of the country.

She also said that with strong wind, some places could see 7.5 metre swells affecting the coast, including in Nelson and Marlborough, Buller, Kapiti and northern Wellington.

The forecast for Dunedin and Central Otago was for periods of rain on Wednesday, from the storm's cloud sheets.

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Civil Defence director Sarah Stuart Black said it was unclear at this stage how likely it would be for a state of emergency to be declared.

Bring your pets inside, and if you are forced to leave your home, be prepared to take them with you.

Residents should keep doors closed, secure items that may blow around and unplug small appliances in case of power surges, it said.

Heavy rain in Fiordland had also eased. As of early Monday morning 12 February 2018, the system intensified to a Category 4 when it crossed Tonga during the night between February 12 and 13.

It was expected the centre of the cyclone would track over the upper South Island, but if it "wobbles a little bit further south" it could bring heavy rain with it.

MetService says on Sunday a heavy rain watch had been issued for the lower North Island from Horowhenua to Wellington, and including Wairarapa and the Tararua Range.

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