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Cyclone Gita: NZ Transport Agency urging drivers to consider delaying travel in affected areas

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The NZ Transport Agency is urging people to plan ahead and consider delaying road travel in areas likely be most impacted by Cyclone Gita until the predicted severe weather has passed.

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.

“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, and SH1 north and south of Kaikoura could also be closed.

Mr Walker says with storm surges predicted for Nelson, as a precaution the Transport Agency is planning on closing SH6 Rocks Road from 10am to 4pm on Tuesday (3 hours either side of high tide). Conditions will be assessed early Tuesday morning with a final decision to be made at 7am.

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

“We’re working closely with MetService, local authorities, and the Civil Defence network in preparation for any impacts on the transport network and we’re planning for the likelihood of road closures.”

If delaying travel is not an option, it’s important that motorists to drive to the conditions during severe weather:

  • Reduce driving speeds
  • Increase following distances
  • Be alert to the possibility of surface flooding, fallen trees and debris

“Vehicles need three times more stopping distance in wet, while high-sided vehicles and motorbikes are more susceptible to tipping over in high winds.

'The Transport Agency wants everyone to be safe on the roads during Gita, so it’s important to keep updated on the latest forecasts and travel information before deciding to travel.”

All current road closures and warnings will be updated in real time during the storm event at http://www.journeys.nzta.govt.nz/traffic/(external link), and drivers can also call 0800 44 44 49 for 24/7 updates on road conditions, closures or delays.

The latest severe weather information is available at http://www.metservice.com/warnings/severe-weather-warnings(external link)

For emergency and disaster updates visit www.civildefence.govt.nz(external link).

Social media updates

For Central North Island

https://twitter.com/NZTACNI(external link)

https://www.facebook.com/nztacni/(external link)

For Wellington

www.twitter.com/NZTAWgtn(external link)

www.facebook.com/nztawgtn/(external link)

For South Island

https://twitter.com/NZTACWC(external link)

https://www.facebook.com/nztasouthisland(external link)/

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