May 29, 2023

What’s to come: System two to three times larger than NZ yet to deliver full blow

Watch: Newshub's weather map tracking Cyclone Gabrielle's path.

Cyclone Gabrielle made her destructive presence known on Sunday and Monday morning, but every forecaster warns the main event is yet to come. 

MetService has issued 29 severe weather warnings and watches across the motu as Cyclone Gabrielle continues to lash Aotearoa. 

Warnings and watches by region: 

  • Northland: Heavy rain and strong wind warning -Red 
  • Auckland including Great Barrier Island and other islands in Hauraki Gulf: Heavy rain and wind warning – Red 
  • Coromandel Penisula: Heavy rain and strong wind warning – Red
  • Waikato: Heavy rain warning – Orange
  • Waikato, Waitomo, Taumarnui, Taupō, Taihape, Bay of Plenty and Gisborne: Strong wind warning – Orange
  • Bay of Plenty west of Whakatane: Heavy rain warning – Orange 
  • Bay of Plenty from Whakatane eastwards and eastern ranges of Taupō: Heavy rain watch 
  • Gisborne north of Tolaga Bay: Heavy rain warning – Red
  • Hawkes Bay: Heavy rain warning – Orange 
  • Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa, Tararua District, Wellington, Whanganui and Manawatu: Strong wind warning – Orange
  • Wairarapa and Tararua District: Heavy rain warning – Orange 
  • Wairarapa – Turakirae Head to Mataikona: Heavy swell warning
  • Mount Taranaki: Heavy rain warning – Orange 
  • Taranaki: Strong wind warning – Orange 
  • Horowhenua and the Kapiti Coast: Strong wind warning – Orange 
  • Marlborough, Nelson and Buller: Strong wind warning – Orange 
  • Eastern Marlborough south of Blenheim and Kaikoura Coast: Heavy rain warning – Orange 
  • Westland north of Fox Glacier: Strong wind watch 

Westland, Central Otago, Southern Lakes, Clutha, Southland and Fiordland: Severe thunderstorm watch 

MetService meteorologist Lewis Ferris told AM while Cyclone Gabrielle no longer has her tropical cyclone characteristics, the system remains “very intense”.

Ferris said the centre of Gabrielle doesn’t look like it will make landfall but says “that doesn’t matter”.

“We’re seeing widespread severe weather, really dangerous conditions already yesterday.”

Ferris said conditions are going to get even worse than they were on Sunday for parts of the country. 

“If it was a rough day yesterday you are in for another one today, but there is an end in sight but you just need to get through a couple more days and things will start to ease off.”

The meteorologist said some regions will let up a bit today, but the likes of Auckland, Coromandel and areas close to the low-pressure system will likely see conditions “worse than yesterday”.

“Sunday was going to be sort of the warm-up day, in terms of widespread effects, today is going to be the main event, so we really do need to be [having] everyone looking at the weather forecast, following that advice of officials.”

And NIWA warns of the same. In a tweet NIWA said for most of the North Island, “the worst is yet to come”.

“Rain intensity will increase today, especially this evening and tonight, from Auckland to the Coromandel, Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay.”

As of 8am, WeatherWatch says Cyclone Gabrielle was still located north of the country. It said the centre of Gabrielle has weakened “a little” over the past 36 hours but warns things are expected to intensify further again as she gets closer. 

A new track of Cyclone Gabrielle shows her moving to the southeast, which could reduce storm surges in Auckland and instead bring strong southerly winds for longer.

“The south easterly wind flow is often kinder to Auckland city than a north-easterly wind, thanks to the specific placement of Gabrielle so far.”

WeatherWatch says its latest tracking shows the centre of Gabrielle moving over or very near Great Barrier Island and northern Coromandel Penisula before dawn on Tuesday.

WeatherWatch says Gabrielle is a “large storm” two to three times the size of Aotearoa and is yet to properly arrive. 

“That’s why across Monday, Monday night and Tuesday we’ll be seeing the peak of this storm moving through, with conditions easing around Thursday and Friday,” WeatherWatch said. 

  • Following Newshub’s live update here for all the latest information. 

What you need to know:

  • Kiwis warned to seriously consider preparing to evacuate if they are in an area prone to flooding or could be inundated by a coastal surge
  • All domestic flights to and from main centres into Auckland have been cancelled, along with a growing list of international flights
  • Auckland Harbour Bridge is likely to open and close throughout the day
  • More than 35,000 homes, including about 18,000 in Northland, 15,000 in Auckland and 4000 in Coromandel, are without power
  • All trains are suspended in Auckland until at least 3pm.

Useful websites: 

  • Civil Defence centres and shelters are open in Auckland. A list of where they are is here.
  • If you need help and support during the emergency, visit the Auckland Emergency Management website.
  • For a list of disruptions to services and facilities, visit the Interruptions to Service and Facilities page on the Auckland Council website.
  • For more information on power outages in Auckland check here: Vector – Counties Energy.
  • For power in Northland click here.
  • For public transport information visit Auckland Transport here.
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