New Zealand's Auckland Braces for 'Trifecta' of Rain, Wind, Storm Surges

Sydney — 

Residents of New Zealand’s biggest city were urged Sunday to prepare for the impact of a storm that buffeted Australia’s Norfolk Island overnight.

Gabrielle, downgraded to a sub-tropical low-pressure system from a Category 2 cyclone, passed over Norfolk Island, with its “most destructive winds” missing the island, the Australian outpost’s emergency management authority said.

The focus shifts to New Zealand, 1,460 kilometers south, where the nation’s weather forecaster warned of the storm’s impact starting Sunday. Last month the largest city, Auckland, was hit by record rainfall that sparked floods and killed four people.

A man stacks sandbags to protect a warehouse from a sub-tropical low-pressure system in Auckland, New Zealand, Feb. 12, 2023.

The city of 1.6 million was in line for a “full trifecta” of heavy rain, strong winds and storm surges, said Georgina Griffith, a spokeswoman for the forecaster, MetService.

“Don’t be fooled if you’re not affected until Tuesday,” she told reporters.

Wind and rain were “starting to spread across NZ from the north,” with a 133 kph wind gust reported overnight on the country’s North Island, MetService said.

Auckland Emergency Management warned the city was likely to be hit by strong winds Sunday night, with gusts of up to 140 kph or higher starting Monday.

Several flights canceled

With Gabrielle closing in, Air New Zealand said it was canceling multiple long-haul international fights on Monday, as well as Tasman and Pacific Island flights, and domestic services in and out of Auckland.

Mayor Wayne Brown’s office urged residents to prepare for the storm by taking steps such as tying down loose outdoor items and ensuring houses were clear of debris.

The storm was on track to lie off Cape Reinga at the North Island’s north end on Sunday afternoon after moving away from Norfolk Island, MetService said.

Cleanup on Norfolk

On Norfolk Island, which covers just more than 34 square km in the Pacific Ocean between New Caledonia and New Zealand, authorities said they were clearing debris and trees from roads and restoring power knocked out in the storm.

“There is still considerable cleanup to be undertaken and it may take a while for services such as power to be restored,” Emergency Management Norfolk Island said.

Its roughly 2,000 residents, some descended from British sailors who mutinied on the HMS Bounty in the 18th century, had been “extremely fortunate” with the passage of the cyclone, the agency said, as winds eased and an all-clear was issued.




Published on 2023-02-11

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Originally posted as: New Zealand's Auckland Braces for 'Trifecta' of Rain, Wind, Storm Surges, made available by Voice of America under the terms of the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal license.

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