Cyclone Gabrielle hits Auckland, New Zealand which is already facing extreme weather events as Cyclone Gabrielle approaches the city. The residents are bracing for the deluge two weeks after a record-breaking storm left four people dead and caused widespread disruption.
As a precaution, train services have been cancelled, libraries and most schools are closed, and authorities are urging people to only make essential trips. Air New Zealand has cancelled all domestic flights to and from Auckland through Tuesday morning, as well as many international flights. Some international routes will continue operating but might be diverted. The airline has also cancelled domestic flights to and from Hamilton, Tauranga, and Taupo.
Cyclone Gabrielle, moving south, has already dumped over 220 millimeters (9 inches) of rain in areas north of Auckland, causing power outages for about 58,000 households and closing many roads. As of Monday afternoon, 46,000 homes are still without power. A state of emergency has been declared in Northland, Auckland, and other regions, and residents in low-lying areas have been asked to evacuate.
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins says the weather has made the start of the year “incredibly challenging” for people in Auckland and other northern areas. He acknowledges the difficulties that families and businesses are facing and describes the situation as “overwhelming.”
Cyclone Gabrielle is expected to pass Auckland overnight Monday, with its windspeed downgraded to around 130 km/h (80 mph). The weather forecaster, MetService, predicts a very high likelihood of “extreme, impactful, and unprecedented weather” in many regions, including heavy rain, strong winds, and large waves.
Due to the cyclone, some events scheduled for the opening session of Parliament have been rescheduled, including Prime Minister Hipkins’ statement outlining his priorities for the year, which has been moved from Tuesday to Wednesday.
Two weeks ago, Auckland experienced the wettest day ever recorded in the city, as the amount of rain that typically falls over an entire summer hit in a single day. The quick rising floodwaters and landslides killed four people, destroyed hundreds of homes, and caused widespread disruption. Auckland residents are hoping for a better outcome this time as they prepare for the arrival of Cyclone Gabrielle.