Weather: Residents prepare to be cut off as East Coast braces for more torrential rain

The East Coast is bracing for more rain as residents prepare to be cut off by another storm.

Weather watches and warnings are in place for Tairāwhiti Gisborne, which is under a local state of emergency, and Civil Defence is warning the already saturated ground is making the roading network vulnerable to further destruction.

The agency urges residents to have enough supplies for at least three days as parts of the region may become isolated again.

A sub-tropical low is forecasted to approach the North Island on Wednesday which could bring heavy rain and severe gales for Tairāwhiti Gisborne and eastern Bay of Plenty, MetService said.

An associated front moves southwest across Gisborne delivering a period of heavy rain, and a heavy rain warning and watch remains in force for the region. 

MetService has issued an orange heavy rain warning for Gisborne north of Tolaga Bay from 3pm Wednesday until 6am Thursday. Up to 90mm of rain is expected in the area, especially about the ranges.

"Heavy rain may cause streams and rivers to rise rapidly. Surface flooding and slips are also possible and driving conditions may be hazardous," MetService said.

A heavy rain watch has been issued for Gisborne about and south of Tolaga Bay from 6pm Wednesday until 9am Thursday. Heavy rain is expected in the area and rainfall amounts may approach warning criteria.

Severe weather warning and watches.
Severe weather warning and watches. Photo credit: MetService

In addition, strong southeasterly winds are forecast for parts of the North Island, with the strongest winds expected about the far north of Gisborne and eastern Bay of Plenty where a strong wind watch is in force.

MetService has issued a strong wind watch for Gisborne north of Ruatoria, and Bay Of Plenty east of Opotiki from Wednesday 6pm until midnight. It said southeasterly winds may approach severe gales in exposed places. 

Gisborne has been under a local state of emergency which remains in place until Friday. It comes after Cyclone Hale battered the region causing flooding, slips and power cuts.

Flooding caused by Cyclone Hale in Gisborne.
Flooding caused by Cyclone Hale in Gisborne. Photo credit: RNZ

Tairāwhiti Civil Defence said all power has been restored across the district and is urging locals to prepare for heavy rain later on Wednesday by having supplies on-hand to cover at least three days.

"Staff continue to monitor the forecast peak rainfall intensities for the Hikuwai River which is predicted to reach 5m. At this stage it's the saturated ground and vulnerable road network that are the main concern," Tairāwhiti Civil Defence said on Facebook.

The agency said 20 roads remain closed and residents should be prepared for temporary closures between Tolaga Bay and Ruatoria on SH35. Speed restrictions also remain in place on parts of the highway.

MetService is forecasting the low to move away from the country to the southeast later on Thursday.

On Friday, a front moving northeast is expected to cross Fiordland and there is low confidence that a rainfall warning will be needed there, MetService said. The front should weaken as it moves north.

On Saturday, a ridge of high pressure is expected to begin forming over the country and on Sunday, another front should move onto the far south.