Tauranga’s City Council’s emergency management services are warning residents and businesses in harbour areas to prepare for possible flooding.
Tropical Cyclone Fehi, heading towards Westland this evening, is bringing with it a low pressure system. In addition there are king tides forecast for Tauranga, heavy rain on Friday morning as well as winds of 40 – 50km per hour from the north.
This means that there is a possibility that some water may come over north and east facing harbour walls from Thursday afternoon until Friday evening and localised ponding of stormwater on Friday morning.
“The weather coming our way is not as bad as the storm that caused the water to come over the harbour walls on Friday, 5 January 2018," says Tauranga City Council’s Manager of Emergency Management, Paul Baunton. "This overtopping may not happen, but we want to warn residents and business of the potential for overtopping, so they can prepare for it.
“Anyone living or working in a low-lying property near adjoining north or east facing harbour margins that flooded on 5 January needs to be aware of the potential for overtopping to occur and prepare accordingly. This may include sandbagging, lifting important items off the floor, having an emergency getaway bag prepared and a safe place to go if you think you need to self-evacuate.”
Since the storm in early January, Tauranga City Council has been working with MetService and Tonkin and Taylor Ltd to understand and predict when storms might cause water in the harbour to overtop exposed harbour margins. Council has received advice from these specialists that there is an increased risk of overtopping Thursday and Friday of this week.
“Part of the work we undertook with our specialists was to understand if the potential for overtopping of the harbour margins for the king tides may occur again," says Paul.
The key drivers behind the harbour flooding in early January were severe winds, the direction that wind came from, an unusually high king tide and a very low pressure system passing over the Bay of Plenty.
“Council is completing our normal storm preparations and ensuring our contractors are ready to respond if needed," says Paul. "We will monitor what’s going on and coordinate any response activities needed."