Residents of New Zealand’s North Island are bracing for heavy rains and winds as Cyclone Gabriel moves south and approaches the coast.
Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown has warned residents that the worst is yet to come, and local mayors across the island have declared a local emergency, especially in the northernmost region.
“The next 24 hours will be challenging for all Aucklanders,” he told reporters. “Please be careful [the weather forecast], and remember, things can turn out worse than expected. ”
Meteorologist MetService recorded gusts of 150 to 160 kilometers per hour (93 to 99 miles per hour) since noon local time and 15 to 30mm of rain at several stations on the east coast of the North Island. reported that it did. in an hour.
Auckland also recorded gusts of up to 130 kilometers per hour.
The cyclone is expected to hit the northern tip of New Zealand and envelop the coastline in a southeasterly direction over the next 36 hours. The northern regions of the South Island will also be affected.
Conditions are expected to begin easing late Tuesday through Wednesday.
The size of Cyclone Gabriel is evident in this video.
Gusts of 150-160 km/h have been recorded since noon, and some Gisborne stations have recorded 15-30 mm of precipitation per hour. pic.twitter.com/1dZ1A4dxEU
—MetService (@MetService) February 13, 2023
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins thanked New Zealand’s first responders and acknowledged the fatigue families and businesses are experiencing in the face of a series of extreme weather events.
“Many people have not been able to take a break. The needs in the community are critical. The impact of repeated weather events has pushed our social services institutions to their limits,” he said after the Cabinet. told reporters. Press conference February 13th.
To help communities affected by the recent series of wet weather events, the Prime Minister announced a $11.5 million (US$7 million) community assistance package to assist local organizations and groups.
“Approximately 25,000 people have received food, clothing, shelter, bedding and accommodation assistance so far. People have lost their homes and cars. And many families will face an industry of anxiety from the significant disruption they’ve been through,” said Hipkins.
Funds are being reallocated from under spent COVID relief funds.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has yet to declare a national emergency as the National Emergency Management Agency has determined that “the threshold has not been reached”.
The National Cabinet continues to receive updates every four hours.
Hipkins urged people to “be prepared, stay indoors as much as possible, and have a plan in case you need to move.”
Tens of thousands without power
Hipkins said 46,000 people were without power by 1:30 p.m. Monday. Most of them were residents of Northland.
As of 4 p.m., 15,500 customers were without power, according to distribution company Northpower.
“The situation is constantly changing,” the company said on its website.
“Our main priority is to revitalize the main lines that serve the most customers. We will continue to investigate, reduce outage areas and work on repairing these main lines first.”
Another utility, Vector, said the number of outages had risen to 22,000 as of 6 p.m.
“To put it in perspective, we have over 600,000 power customers. We expect the numbers without power to continue to fluctuate up and down throughout the day.” Said.
While the crew worked to restore power, many families were warned they would have to survive the night without electricity.
“Our crew continues to work in dire conditions so that homes and businesses can be safely restored. There is a possibility.”
Sharing the New Zealand experience on the world stage
Cyclone Gabriel, which was downgraded from Category 2 to Category 1, came just two weeks after heavy rains and flash floods flooded the Auckland area.
In response to the event, Hipkins said the country would see more extreme weather events in the near future due to climate change.
Hipkins said future meetings with other world leaders would be an opportunity to share New Zealand’s experience as an illustration of the “global significance” of climate change.
“I think the planet is increasingly seeing the effects of climate change,” he said.
High winds and rain have caused delays or cancellations of transportation services throughout the Auckland region.
Trains don’t run until “at least” noon Tuesday, and ferry service ends Monday night. Buses are still running as usual.
Auckland Transport Authority has warned drivers that multiple roads have been closed, causing slippage and detours throughout the area.
“High winds can cause trees to fall and roads and lanes to be closed suddenly. I have written on Twitter.
Air New Zealand also canceled more than 500 flights on Monday, affecting more than 29,000 customers, 10,000 of whom were on international flights.
Based on current weather forecasts, the airline plans to resume domestic and international flights on Tuesday.
“Rebooking is going well, with about 6,500 customers waiting to be rebooked as of this morning. have been rebooked to different services,” said Air NZ’s Leanne Geraghty. Said.
The flight disruption also affected the Prime Minister in Auckland, who as a result was unable to attend the scheduled Ministerial Meeting in Wellington in person.