New Zealand issues red alert for some areas as Cyclone Gabriel approaches

New Zealand on Friday issued an emergency alert for the Coromandel Peninsula and northern Gisborne, just two weeks after Auckland was hit by record rainfall.

The cyclone is now located in the northern Tasman Sea and is expected to reach northern New Zealand on Sunday before moving southwards on Tuesday, according to the New Zealand Meteorological Service.

“This is expected to be a widespread severe weather event. Significant downpours and potentially damaging winds are forecast for many parts of northern and central New Zealand.” Alert state.

MetService said the Coromandel Peninsula and Gisborne, north of Tolaga Bay, could experience heavy rain in the range of 300-400 mm from Sunday to Tuesday, which could lead to “unsafe river conditions and significant flooding.” I said yes.

“Slips and floods are likely to disrupt traffic, making some roads impassable and potentially isolating communities. Power outages are also very likely,” he said.

A 24-hour orange heavy rain warning has also been issued for Northland, North Auckland and Hawke’s Bay. MetService said the alert period could be extended and raised to red level if the heavy rain continues.

“Very strong winds, gusts reach 120-130 degrees” [kilometers per hour], or possibly higher from Monday depending on the path of Cyclone Gabriel. Winds should be east-southeast at first, but are expected to turn south-southwest later Monday or early Tuesday. ”

Emergency Management Minister Kieran McAnulty on Friday urged New Zealanders to plan and prepare for severe weather and warned them to stay vigilant as the cyclone’s trajectory is changing.

“The government is taking this very seriously and stands ready to respond to keep people safe and support affected communities,” McAnulty said. sky news.

“We’re going to spend the next few days getting ready. The weather is nice today and Saturday, so it’s a good time for you and your family to get ready,” he added.

New Zealand’s ‘most severe storm’

New Zealand meteorologist said the cyclone, most likely a Category 3 cyclone this weekend, will reach the country between Sunday and Tuesday.

Category 3 storms have winds of 119 to 157 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 224 kilometers per hour.

“If this current model proves to be a reality, this is likely to be the most severe storm to hit New Zealand this century, with Auckland in particular having a mixed potential for direct hits,” said Wednesday. said to

Even if Auckland hadn’t experienced severe flooding recently, potential weather events would be a concern, he added.

new zealand weather
Paramedics and a man walk through flood waters in Auckland, New Zealand, January 27, 2023. (Hayden Woodward/New Zealand Herald via AP)

A state of emergency was declared on 27 January due to widespread damage from flooding and torrential rains in Auckland. At least four people have died as flash floods and landslides hit the country’s largest city.

Flights to and from Auckland airport have been delayed or cancelled, and all schools in Auckland have been closed until 7 February. New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said about 350 people were in need of emergency accommodation after the flash flood.

A La Niña event is bringing more rain than usual to the northern North Island of New Zealand.

According to the National Institute of Water and Atmosphere Research (NIWA), Auckland has already recorded more than eight times the average January rainfall and 40% of the annual average rainfall.

About one cyclone affects New Zealand each year. However, MetService said the tropical cyclone’s characteristics and structure changed dramatically by the time it reached New Zealand and would almost certainly be reclassified as a tropical cyclone.

“Reclassification as an extratropical cyclone does not necessarily mean that the system is weakened,” added MetService.

Reuters contributed to this report.