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North braces for Sose

Published: 6:00AM Thursday April 12, 2001

There are heavy rain and gale warnings in force for the north of the North Island as tropical cyclone Sose heads south towards New Zealand.

Sose has already taken one life in Vanuatu and left a trail of destruction across the Pacific.

Moving at a speed of around 15kmph and packing winds of around 100kmph, its tail hit Australia's east coast on Wednesday with heavy seas battering the Sunshine and Gold Coasts.

The Metservice is predicting the northern parts of New Zealand will bear the brunt of the cyclone, which is expected to be in the middle of the North Island by midnight Thursday night.

Northlanders have been warned to expect about 80mm of rain on Thursday and then thunderstorms on Friday while the Coromandel Peninsula is in for 120mm of rain on Thursday night.

The East Coast and Bay of Plenty are also expected to be hit hardest by the storm, however most of the North Island will receive heavy rain.

Drought stricken areas like Wairarapa, Nelson and Marlborough should get between 20-30mm of rain on Friday night but it will not be enough to break the grip of the big dry.

Boaties in the north are being told to take early precautions.

"Right now is a good time to check your moorings. Don't wait until the winds arrive, by then all you should be checking is your insurance," says John Cowan of the Auckland Coastguard.

Northland police say they have been in touch with the local army, road controlling authority and district councils to make sure everyone is aware their services may be needed.

On the bright side, the entire Easter holiday break will not be ruined by the rain.

The worst of the weather will be over quickly and it is expected to start clearing in most places on Saturday.

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