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Rain widespread across region

Sunday, 23 January 2011 1:50 p.m.

Rain is widespread across the Bay of Plenty region and has increased in intensity through the night as a low pressure system moves across the upper North Island.

The Bay of Plenty Emergency Management flood room will be activated from 9:00am today and will be manned 24/7 until the end of the event. The MetService has issued a severe weather warning for areas of the North Island, including the Bay of Plenty. Some of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council's monitoring sites have approached 70mm of rain in the last 24 hours.

Community Relations Manager Bronwyn Campbell said rivers in the region are yet to respond significantly, but are expected to steadily rise during the day.

The Ōkere Gates near Rotorua have been opened to increase flows from Lake Rotoiti, and will be increasingly opened to match inflows.

TrustPower is increasing generation from the Matahina Dam this morning in anticipation of increased flows in the Rangitāiki River.

Ms Campbell said the latest MetService update had increased the upper limit of the warning to 450mm for the Bay of Plenty region through until midday on Monday.

"Rain will cause rivers and stream to rise quickly, with slips and localised flooding possible, and driving conditions could be dangerous. People are advised to keep up to date with the latest forecasts and warnings.

"High sea levels produced by strong north to northeast onshore winds accompanying the rain could restrict rivers flowing into the sea in eastern areas from Auckland to the Bay of Plenty," she said.

"All farmers should move stock to high ground, and if people don't need to travel they should stay at home. Campers in the region should pack up and head home. We are closely monitoring the situation and Bay of Plenty Civil Defence Emergency Management staff are on standby."

The next situation update will be 2pm today, or earlier if required.

Ends

For further information on weather predictions please go to www.metservice.com