MetService warns Cyclone Gabrielle is likely to arrive earlier than first expected for Northland.
“Independent of the eventual track, there is a very high risk of extreme and impactful weather over the upper North Island late Saturday then spreading south to central New Zealand by Monday,” it said in an update.
“This is expected to be a widespread and significant weather event. Significant heavy rain and potentially damaging winds are forecast for many parts of northern and central New Zealand.
“In addition, large waves and coastal inundation are possible about exposed eastern coasts of the North Island.”
A raft of severe weather watches and warnings are in place and MetService has issued a red heavy rain warning for the Coromandel Peninsula and Tairawhiti/Gisborne north of Tolaga Bay.
MetService orange warnings for heavy rain have been issued for Northland, north Auckland including Great Barrier Island, Coromandel Peninsula, Tairāwhiti Gisborne, and Hawke’s Bay.
The bulk of the rain is expected on Monday and some areas can expect to see accumulations through this event of 250 plus millimetres of rain.
Orange wind warnings have been issued for the Northland, Coromandel Peninsula and Auckland north of Whangaparaoa and including Great Barrier Island, where severe gales with gusts of 120 to 130 km/h are possible.
Central Auckland is still under a severe weather watch for wind and rain, which could be upgraded in the near future. Other areas could be upgraded to a red warning later in this event.
Thames-Coromandel Civil Defence controller Garry Towler warned people should seriously consider preparing to evacuate if they are in an area prone to flooding or which may be inundated by coastal surge.
“Things have changed a little bit and we are now probably confident to say that a very severe and possibly destructive cyclone is descending on the Coromandel,” he said in a YouTube video.
“Now that we have some quite certain information that we are going to have over 400 mils of rain, winds with wind gusts in excess of maybe 140-150 km/h, that we are in a position now to ask people to seriously consider preparing to evacuate.”
Fire and Emergency group manager Shane Bromley added emergency services may not be able to get to you in an emergency.
“Think about your evacuations, make a plan, take your medication, take food, take whatever you need now before we have to come and try and evacuate you,” he said.
“We are unable sometimes to get to you so let’s please make sure we take this seriously and if you feel you need to evacuate, please evacuate now.”
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has urged people to avoid all non-essential travel in the upper North Island.
“Heavy rain and severe winds are likely to hit Northland, Auckland, Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay,” said Mark Owen, Waka Kotahi National Emergency Response Team spokesperson.
“Many roads in these areas were damaged in the previous storm, the ground is already sodden, and they are particularly vulnerable to slips, flooding and closure.”
The advice to people in all areas affected by the predicted heavy rain and strong winds is to avoid any non-urgent travel. If you must travel check the latest weather conditions with MetService, and the latest road closures via the Waka Kotahi Journey Planner.
And with winds forecast to gust up to 130km/h or higher in Auckland from early Sunday morning, it is likely that the Auckland Harbour Bridge will need to close on short notice.
“Driving on the bridge with winds gusting at those extreme speeds is unsafe, particularly for motorcycles and high-sided vehicles,” Owen added.
“We are constantly monitoring wind speeds on the bridge, and with severe wind gusts possible from early tomorrow morning right through to Tuesday evening, lane closures or full bridge closures may be put in place at any time.”
Auckland’s Deputy Mayor Desley Simpson has provided an update on how residents should prepare for Cyclone Gabrielle, in a press conference on Saturday.
“Please make sure you have your emergency plans and supplies in place before tomorrow [Sunday],” Simpson said.
“Please ensure you only buy what you need for the next few days.”
Information on what to buy before the cyclone hits can be found on the Get Ready website.
She also added the Waste Solutions team have been working with the New Zealand Defence Force, “finalising curbside collections across the region”.
“Please do not put any more flood-damaged items out. Remaining flood-damaged property should be stored and secured from strong winds until collections can resume,” Simpson said.
She said the Mayoral office is working with Auckland Emergency Management, Auckland Council as well as other agencies to prepare for the tropical cyclone.
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