As it happened: Top five tips to surviving Cyclone Gita

With Cyclone Gita just a day away from making landfall, New Zealanders are being warned to make emergency preparations in time.

The cyclone swept across the Pacific last week, bringing destruction and devastation to Tonga and Samoa. It's now expected to slam into New Zealand's southern North Island and the northern half of the South Island.

What you need to know:

  • Gale-force gusts, slips, flooding and coastal inundation is predicted
  • Civil Defence staff are being pre-deployed to the areas that will be worst affected
  • New Zealanders are being urged to prepare emergency evacuation plans and have a grab-bag ready
  • Major travel disruptions are predicted to hit urban centres

This live updates article has now concluded. See the latest on Cyclone Gita here.

9:38pm Latest Cyclone Gita position and path from MetService

9:13pm: The team from The Project has shared their top tips to surviving Cyclone Gita

1. Keep your cool - and we don't just mean being cool headed. Turn your fridge to sub zero so if a power cut should occur, your food will have a better chance of lasting longer.

2. Stock up on water - drinking, flushing, cooking, showering. It is said each of us uses about 50 litres a day to fulfill basic daily functions, so fill up your containers with water. 

3. Batten down the hatches and everything else. That means doors, bikes, trampolines... basically any loose items that could fly away should be safe and secured.

4.Cash is king. If power is out and eftpos machines are down, you can still use cash to top up on supplies, so make sure you have some around.

5. Make sure you're powered up. Charge up your phones, laptops and any other electronic devices, because it is quite difficult to get in touch with someone if your phone has a flat battery.

8:40pm: Nelson-Tasman and West Coast residents prepare for the worst

Nelson-Tasman Civil Defence Controller Roger Ball says residents in low lying areas will be hit the worst.

"Cyclone Fehi was a pretty impactful event this is shaping up to be as serious if not more."

He says the councils did not have enough resources to help provide sandbags to indivdual properties which was frustrated some residents.

In Westport schools have been closed and emergency centres are being set in preparation of what is to come.

Rain is expect to fall from 8am on Tuesday which could peak at around 3pm- half an hour after high tide which could see tides as high as 6 metres.

Buller Mayor Garry Howard says "we've got to be prepared right up and down our coast line".

"We are making sure people have enough to get them through the next coupole of days."

Canterbury farmers bracing themselves for up to 150 mm of rain tomorrow. 

Sefton farmer Cam Booker was out picking corn and strawberries on Monday which would be ruined in the rain. 

"Once it starts raining, for the strawberries anyway its too late so yeah it's a bit of race,we'll probably keep going until it's dark, get the kids in after school."

On the Gold Coast, Australia beachs had to be closed after the second day rain. Waves of up to 3 metres caused to mass rescues where 14 people were pulled from the water to safety.


8:00pm: Fire and Emergency New Zealand give their advice to cope in Cyclone Gita

5:29pm: Heavy rain for the upper South Island and lower North Island

Some localised areas will recieve 200mm or more of rain on Tuesday and Wednesday, NIWA says. 

5:18pm: Severe weather warnings and watches issued ahead of Cyclone Gita's arrival on Tuesday

MetService has issued several severe weather warnings and watches for the impacts of Cyclone Gita.
MetService Senior Meteorologist Lisa Murray says, “In the last 72 hours, the track and potential impact areas of Cyclone Gita are becoming clearer. The area of concern over the country has moved further south, so this does change the impact areas.

Severe Wind Warnings are in place for the upper two thirds of the South Island and some western areas of the North Island.

The rest of the North Island is on watch for potential severe winds Tuesday.
The severe weather will begin early on Tuesday, ahead of Gita’s scheduled arrival on Tuesday evening, Ms Murray says.

Strong northerly winds will likely have the biggest impact in the North Island with especially strong winds for the Taranaki, Taihape and Whanganui regions.

For Wellington and the upper South Island, heavy rain will also have significant effects.

Cyclone Gita is expected to move very quickly across the country, so for some places the significant weather will be short lived, Ms Murray says.

When Gita does pull away to the east of the country, a small area of low pressure will remain near the west coast, sliding up the South Island and lower North Island later in the week.
“Even though the deep low pressure system moves away from us early on Wednesday, the effects of Gita will last a few more days, with further rain likely about central New Zealand until Thursday."

4:34pm Motorists urged to delay travel, roads expected to close

The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) is urging people to plan ahead and consider delaying road travel in areas likely be most impacted by Cyclone Gita.

NZ Transport Agency Senior Journey Manager Neil Walker says driving conditions are likely to be treacherous in many affected areas, with heavy rain and very strong winds.

Driving in these conditions will be extremely difficult and roads may be closed at short notice for safety reasons, with the possibility of slips, rockfalls, flooding and coastal inundation on the roads. 

“This is a major weather event and the combination of rain, wind and storm surges could cause flooding, slips and coastal inundation, resulting in very difficult driving conditions.  

"Very strong winds are predicted for several parts of the country, making conditions particularly hazardous for motorcyclists, campervans and other high-sided vehicles.”

While it is too early to say where or when all affected roads could be closed during the storm, the West Coast and Nelson would be particularly vulnerable to disruption given several roads are still being repaired after the significant damage sustained during ex-cyclone Fehi, he says.

State Highway 1 north and south of Kaikoura could also be closed, he says.

As a precaution the NZTA is planning on closing Rocks Road (State Highway 6) from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on Tuesday as storm surges are predicted for Nelson.

Conditions will be assessed early Tuesday morning with a final decision to be made at 7am, he says. 

Motorists are urged to keep a close eye on the latest road conditions and MetService forecasts before travelling.

4:18pm: NIWA answers all of your questions about cyclones in one video

4:02pm: Government closely watching Cyclone Gita's progress

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is flying to Dunedin this evening and could be stranded by the cyclone when it makes landfall.

She is set to give a future-focused speech to first year university students at the University of Otago Convocation Ceremony. She says she did not want to let down the students that will be at the event.

The government is "watching closely to how it [Cyclone Gita] is progressing," Ms Ardern says.

The Minister of Civil Defence Kris Faafoi and Minister of Climate Change James Shaw will be briefed on the event by MetService this afternoon.


2:50pm: Residents told to protect their own properties

Residents in the Nelson-Tasman area are being told it's their responsibility to protect their own properties.

"A number of people have been asking about sandbags," Nelson-Tasman Civil Defence says.

"Councils do not have the resources to provide sandbags for residents along our many rivers and coastal areas. It is up to residents to protect their properties."

2:15pm: Marlborough District Council urges campers to 'leave today'

"If you are camping or boating in the Marlborough Sounds you should leave the area today. Hunters and trampers in the high country should be aware of rapidly rising rivers," officials warn.

"Expect a coastal impact with high tide overnight Tuesday and before 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.

"Heavy rain could 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."

2:00pm: Severe impacts expected for Nelson Tasman

Residents are asked to prepare for a very severe weather event as Cyclone Gita crosses the Nelson Tasman region on Tuesday and into Wednesday.
Weather forecasters are expecting gale force winds, heavy rain and storm surge along the Nelson Tasman coastline.

"Civil Defence warns residents to plan for storm surge effects similar to those seen with ex-Cyclone Fehi," Nelson-Tasman Civil Defence warns.

"Waves generated by the storm are likely along the entire coast and may impact into properties recently flooded by the Fehi storm."

1:50pm: Justin Lester warns Wellingtonians to be prepared

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester says commuters should make early decisions tomorrow morning if ex-Cyclone Gita hits the region with force.

"If you normally start your journey early - and the wind and rain is lashing down when you wake - listen to the radio or go on social media to get the latest information about whether roads are open and rail is operating," he says.

"If you've got school-aged children, check the school's website for information - and if you work in Wellington then managers and employees should be talking this afternoon about whether the trip to work is necessary if the weather is really bad."

Mayor Lester says contractors working for Wellington Water and Wellington City Council have been clearing drains in low-lying streets over the past few days in case of heavy rain.

"Residents can also do their bit by tying down loose objects like trampolines and also making sure drains on their properties and on the street outside are clear."

1:30pm: NIWA warns storm surge will cause coastal flooding

"Forecast storm surge associated with #Gita shows a peak between 3:00 pm Tue-3:00 am Wed," NIWA Weather says.

"There is a risk for some coastal flooding about Taranaki & top of the South Island, although there won't be king tides to contend with this time."

12:50pm: Weather Watch issues latest cyclone details

"On arrival Gita is expected to have maximum sustained wind speed of 85km/h (gale force is 62 km/h)," weather forecasting site Weather Watch says.

"On Tuesday, frontal rainfall over Wellington, Tasman, Nelson, and Canterbury will precede the arrival of Gita. Locally heavy falls for several hours are possible over those areas. Flooding is possible.

"Very dangerous seas and coastal conditions around the country, especially the west."

12:33pm: BOP Civil Defence expecting bad weather

"Models indicate Cyclone Gita will cross central NZ tomorrow," the Bay of Plenty (BoP) Civil Defence says on Twitter.

"That puts the BOP out of the direct firing line but we are still expecting pretty stormy weather so we are keeping a watching brief on the situation."

12:15pm: Maritime New Zealand tells boaties to take care

"Big waves on the way for the coming days. Boaties take care!" the safety agency says.

Waves as high as 10-metres tall will slam into the lower New Zealand's west coast, leading to coastal inundation and possibly damaging boats.

12:00pm: Christchurch City Council warns Canterbury to start preparing

"The worst of the weather is likely to hit Christchurch between 6pm Tuesday and 3am Wednesday," it says.

"Forecasts are suggesting Christchurch could get more than 70mm of rain in 24 hours, which is significant enough to cause street flooding.

"There will be strong winds on Banks Peninsula, with gusts of 70km an hour or greater expected. This, combined with the heavy rain heightens the risk of slips and trees falling.

"High tide on Tuesday night is due about 9pm and will coincide with the heavy rain, increasing the risk of flooding."

11:50am: Air NZ issues travel alert

Air New Zealand says it expects "significant disruption" as Gita arrives and recommends people defer their travel over this period.

"Please note that accommodation and alternative flights are very limited for most of this week. In all cases, incidental costs and penalties such as accommodation and/or meals are the customer’s responsibility," it says.

"Any customer who chooses to commence their journey as planned must be advised that they do so at their own risk. Air New Zealand will not be liable for any costs associated with disrupted travel should a customer opt to travel as planned."

11:30am: MetService warns of "significant swells" to strike on Tuesday.

"As it crosses central New Zealand, it brings significant swells to many central and western areas, as well as the east coast of the South Island," it says on Twitter.

"Here's a swell forecast for Tuesday around 11pm."

11:15am: Air NZ warns of major disruptions.


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