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GDC warns campers, coast communities to prepare as Cody tracks our way

Tairawhiti's coastal communities and campers have been warned to prepare for the possible arrival of Cyclone Cody and severe wind and swells from Sunday.

The MetService said Cody intensified yesterday to Category 2 Tropical Cyclone before it was downgraded to Category 1 today. As of this morning, it was still tracking south-eastwards from Fiji, where it caused significant damage. The MetService yesterday said “most outlooks” suggest it would move south and approach the North Island later on Sunday as a deep low.

At 2pm the MetService issued a statement saying Cyclone Cody would make landfall.

"Exactly where the greatest impact from the expected gale force winds and heavy rain will be, is still uncertain but areas including Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay look likely to bear the brunt of the storm," the statement said.

"As the path of Cyclone Cody becomes clearer MetService will issue Severe Weather Watches and Warnings (by midday Friday) which will include more detail and likely impacts for each region."

Tairawhiti civil defence and emergency manager Ben Green has warned people to be prepared for the cyclone as it would likely bring heavy rainfall and impact road networks and inland areas.

“Given we still have recovery under way from the last severe weather event in November, we need to ensure we are aware of the risks this event may pose.

“Those in coastal locations and areas that have previously been prone to flooding should be keeping an eye on Metservice forecasts and updates. Closer to the weekend we are likely to know the actual path of the cyclone.”

Campers and people in coastal communities should be prepared and have a plan in place to manage the likely impacts.

“Metservice says that regardless of whether the cyclone does pass near to New Zealand, it is likely that a period of large waves will impact parts of the east coast of the North Island.”

Metservice meteorologist April Clark said there was still uncertainty about the precise track of Cody but said “tomorrow would be the day” to really nail down the track of Tropical Cyclone Cody.

“Gisborne is certainly one of the areas we are keeping an eye on,” she said.

Metservice would take over responsibility for tracking and forecasting associated with the cyclone from about midday today, when it is expected to move into New Zealand's area of responsibility.

“There's still quite a lot of uncertainty in terms of the impacts on New Zealand,” she said.

“Obviously, it is getting close to us, so there will be heavy swell on the east coast of the North Island and possibly, really strong wind there.

“It's still moving south and it looks likely to skirt or pass over that upper part of the North Island. The exact track of that centre will make a huge difference as to who will get the worst of it.”

When it enters waters with temperatures under 26 degrees the structure of the storm changes from a tropical cyclone (with gales surrounding an eye),to a cyclone (with fronts forming around the eye).

By that time Tropical Cyclone Cody was “likely to be recategorised as Cyclone Cody”, she said.

Lifeguards here have a watchful eye on the big swells expected from the cyclone and set to impact late in the weekend and

Tropical Cyclone Cody appears to be tracking south towards the North Island's east coast and it will bring sizeable surf.

“We're expecting waves of 2.5 to 3 metres to develop as the weather system approaches,” said regional lifeguard supervisor Andrew Shelton.

“It's been really quiet for the lifeguards so far, but we're holding our breath about what that weather system will bring when it arrives.”

He said lifeguards had carried out a lot of preventative actions, but apart from an incident at Tolaga Bay before Christmas there had been no rescues.

In that incident three people were rescued after they got into difficulties near the mouth of the Uawa River.

The paid guards in Tolaga Bay finished their work on Friday.

“I've been really pleased with the way the paid guards have gone about their work this summer across all the beaches,” said Andrew Shelton.

Wainui, Waikanae and Midway will continue to have paid guards on duty during the week through to next Friday.

“All the guards have taken the extra step to respond and prevent emergency situations from developing.

“The public have been really good too.

“They've been talking to the lifeguards and listening to the advice given, and swimming between the flags.”

COMING THIS WAY: Satellite imagery courtesy of Japan Meteorological Agency shows Tropical Cyclone Cody east of Australia and south of Fiji this morning.