Civil Defence Issues Warning as Cyclone Lusi Approaches New Zealand; Christchurch Most Vulnerable to Rains

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By Reissa Su | March 12, 2014 5:10 PM EST

New Zealand Civil Defence has warned people to prepare for stormy weather in the coming weekend as Tropical Cyclone Lusi heads to the country. According to the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, the cyclone is currently moving from Vanuatu, past Fiji and heading straight for New Zealand.

REUTERS/ Christine Brooks
Dust rises from rocks were falling from a cliff in the Christchurch suburb of Sumner moments after an earthquake struck December 23, 2011.

The tropical cyclone is expected to hit the northern part of New Zealand on March 15, or in the early morning of March 16. From there, Cyclone Lusi is expected to move over central New Zealand before going out to sea on South Island's east on March 17, Monday.

Severe weather will affect several regions in New Zealand, including Northland down to Canterbury.  The ministry announced that the cyclone will more likely change into a sub-tropical weather system as it nears the country. However, people are still advised to take the necessary precautions since it is still considered a dangerous storm.

MetService has issued a warning for North Island and upper region of South Island to prepare for heavy rains over the weekend especially residents in the east and northeast.

The Civil Defence has also advised New Zealanders to monitor weather warnings and forecasts to stay up to date.  

Just last week, the bad weather in New Zealand's Christchurch caused floods and massive power outages as the city council called it a "once-in-a-century" event. Roads and schools were ordered closed due to flooding brought by the storm. The city council said more than 4,000 homes and businesses are still without electricity.

Gales initially caused most of the damage in the morning of March 4, followed by heavy rain throughout the night. The Christchurch City Council said several communities were isolated. Surface floods affected residents in Richmond, St Albans and Mairehau.

Civil Defence and Emergency Management Director John Hamilton said Christchurch will be the most vulnerable to more heavy rains by the incoming cyclone because of the city's saturated state.

MetService metereologist Daniel Corbett said the risk is greater for parts of Canterbury, including Christchurch through the weekend. Mr Corbett said the weather bureau has been tracking Cyclone Lusi which is close to becoming a category 3 System with wind speeds of 119 to 157 km/h.  He said the cyclone could intensify since its surrounded by warm tropical waters.

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(Photo: REUTERS/ Christine Brooks / )
Dust rises from rocks were falling from a cliff in the Christchurch suburb of Sumner moments after an earthquake struck December 23, 2011.
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