Power outages, strong winds, sea swells and rain as Cyclone Gabrielle nears New Zealand
WELLINGTON - More than 58,000 homes were without power in New Zealand’s upper North Island on Monday as Auckland and nearby regions were hit by strong winds, heavy rain and huge swells as Cyclone Gabrielle nears.
Gabrielle hit Norfolk Island on Saturday night, with its most destructive winds missing the island, and is now sitting just north of New Zealand with weather forecasters expecting it to intensify as it nears land during Monday and Tuesday.
“The impact of Gabrielle is still in its early stages and further serious and severe weather is still expected for Tamaki Makaurau (Auckland), later today into Tuesday morning,” said Ms Rachel Kelleher, Deputy Controller Auckland Emergency Management.
“Now is not the time for complacency,” she added.
Many schools and council facilities across Auckland and the upper North Island have closed and people are being asked not to travel if possible. Last month Auckland was hit by record rainfall that sparked floods and killed four people.
The meteorological agency Metservice said Whangarei, a city north of Auckland, had received 100.5mm of rain in the past 12 hours, while winds of 159kmh had been recorded in the Channel Islands off the coast of Auckland.
Power lines company Northpower and Vector said that more than 30,000 homes are now without power and that further homes are likely to be impacted on Monday with power cuts possible for a number of days.
Northpower, which is responsible for the network in the northernmost regions, said around half of their network had been damaged, a level it has not seen since a cyclone in 1988.
The New Zealand Defence Force has located staff across Auckland and neighbouring regions and they are bringing in welfare stores to civil defence centres and shelters. - REUTERS
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