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Key events

Wind gusts up to 160 km/h recorded

National forecaster MetService has issued a heavy rain warning, together with a red and strong wind warning predicted to last until Wednesday.

Wind gusts of 150 – 160 km/h, and some stations in Gisborne have recorded rain rates of 15 – 30mm in a single hour, the forecaster said.

Wind gusts also reached up to 140km/h in Northland and 135km/h in the Hauraki Gulf, outside Auckland.

These winds are expected to produce widespread damage, especially to trees and powerlines and could lift roofs. Transport and power networks are likely to be significantly impacted, with road closures and power outages.

Conditions will be hazardous for motorists and there is a danger to life from flying debris and falling trees or branches.

The size of Cyclone Gabrielle is clear in this video.

Since noon, we’re recorded gusts of 150 – 160 km/h, and some stations in Gisborne have recorded rain rates of 15 – 30mm in a single hour.

— MetService (@MetService) February 13, 2023

Emergency services log 198 weather-related incidents

Fire and Emergency New Zealand district manager Brad Mosby has also provided an update, saying that said over the past 12 hours, from 1am, there had been 198 incidents logged related to severe weather.

Most have been related to wind damage, he added.

There were 91 incidents recorded in Northland, 62 in Auckland and 35 in Waikato, mainly from the Coromandel.

As rain intensifies, more calls relating to flooding are coming through, Moseby said.

Worst of wind to batter parts of Auckland on Tuesday

MetService meteorologist Georgina Griffiths has said the cyclone is about halfway through and the most challenging wind conditions are set to batter parts of Auckland on Tuesday.

Griffiths said rainfall has made the ground soggy again, however no major flooding has happened yet.

We do not expect everyone to see the heavier rain rates, however those who do will see localised impacts such as slips and floods.

The wind is expected to return from the south-west overnight and tomorrow.

A storm surge is still likely for eastern Auckland around 2am, however effects will be less than previously expected, Griffiths said.

‘We’re not out of the woods yet,’ Auckland residents warned

Rachel Kelleher, deputy controller Auckland emergency management, has said the effects of the cyclone will get worse before they get better.

“We’re not out of the woods yet,” she told reporters during a live briefing on Monday.

Auckland residents urged to stay home

The mayor of Auckland, Wayne Brown, has said the next 24 hours will be challenging, urging residents to stay home.

As long as it’s safe, stay home …

It’s going to be a hard night and a very difficult week. For many, the recovery will be long.”

Auckland emergency officials give cyclone

Officials are gathering to provide a live update on Cyclone Gabrielle in Auckland today.

Representatives from the MetService, Auckland council, the NZDF, fire and emergency and other organisations are joining Auckland emergency management at 2pm local time.

Speaking are Georgina Griffiths from MetService, Colonel Mel Childs from the defence force, fire and emergency district manager Brad Mosby, Vector’s chief operating officer Peter Ryan, Auckland mayor Wayne Brown and Auckland transport’s general manager of safety, Stacey van der Putten.

We will bring you all the latest lines shortly.

Defence force on standby

The New Zealand defence force has located 150 staff across Auckland and neighbouring regions as they bring in welfare supplies to civil defence centres and shelters.

A statement issued by the force on Monday morning read:

About 150 NZDF personnel and mix of vehicle types are positioned ready to respond across the Northland, Auckland, Coromandel and Bay of Plenty areas.

Teams have also been assisting in the establishment of Civil Defence centres and shelters across Auckland including delivering more than 50 pallets of emergency supplies including blankets, tea, coffee, air mattresses, sleeping bags and warm clothes.

Rain and wind expected to intensify

The approach of Cyclone Gabrielle is bringing particularly strong winds, heavy rain and huge swells to Auckland and nearby regions.

Gabrielle is now sitting just north of New Zealand, with weather forecasters expecting rain and winds to intensify as it nears land during Monday and Tuesday.

Rachel Kelleher, deputy controller Auckland emergency management, warned that the cyclone was “still in its early stages” and more severe weather is to come.

The impact of Gabrielle is still in its early stages and further serious and severe weather is still expected for Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) later today into Tuesday morning.

Now is not the time for complacency.

Person missing on boat off Great Barrier Island

A search is under way to for a person missing on a boat off the coast of Great Barrier Island.

A police spokesperson said police had responded to reports of a boat in distress around 2.15am.

“Enquiries are ongoing to locate one person aboard a water vessel near Great Barrier Island this morning.”

The Police Maritime and Eagle – helicopter response – units had “attempted to approach the boat throughout the morning, however conditions have been challenging, and at this stage no one has been located,” they said.

Police will make further attempts to approach the vessel when conditions allow.

Chris Hipkins may miss opening of parliament

Prime minister Chris Hipkins may miss the scheduled opening of parliament tomorrow if he remains trapped in Auckland by Cyclone Gabrielle.

Hipkins traveled to Auckland to attend cyclone preparation briefings and speak to Apec business council. With all domestic flights in and out of Auckland currently cancelled until at least midday tomorrow, the prime minister’s chances of getting back to parliament to deliver the prime minister’s statement – traditional on the first house sitting of the year – are looking narrow.

The New Zealand PM, Chris Hipkins, is trapped in Auckland, where domestic flights are currently cancelled. Photograph: Lukas Coch/EPA

Cellphone service disrupted by storm

As well as power outages, there are disruptions to cellphone coverage – primarily in the upper North Island – with some cell phone sites out due to power outages or wind damage.

Vodafone, Spark and 2 Degrees all say they have a number of sites down.

We have started to see the effects of Cyclone Gabrielle on our network, with some cell sites currently down due to power issues.

— Vodafone New Zealand (@vodafoneNZ) February 12, 2023

Sending aroha to those battling Cyclone Gabrielle up north. As the storm front continues to make it’s way down the country, we are seeing localized outages due to power outages and wind damage. (1/2)

— 2degrees (@2degreesmobile) February 12, 2023

Forecasters and weather monitoring agencies are forecasting huge swells around the North Island – and warning people to stay away.

Waves to the north of New Zealand, near the centre of #CycloneGabrielle, are over 12 m high! 🌊

⚠️ On Monday-Tuesday, 5-8 m waves are likely in the northern & eastern North Island ~ coastal conditions will be very dangerous!

🧵 insights from @niwa_nz‘s coastal experts…

— NIWA Weather (@NiwaWeather) February 12, 2023

‘The worst weather is still to come’ for parts of North Island

National forecaster Metservice says the worst weather is still to come – and that it has already broken records for the most “red” weather warnings ever issued. Some of the key points from their statement at noon:

Cyclone Gabrielle is bearing down on the North Island, and despite widespread damage and disruption last night and this morning, the worst weather is still to come for many regions today.

“This is a major weather system and shouldn’t be taken lightly,” explains meteorologist Angus Hines. “We have a couple more days of wild weather ahead. We’ve never had such an extensive range of Red Severe Weather Warnings – which are the highest classification of Severe Weather Warning MetService can issue.”

Many of the red rain warnings are for already waterlogged regions, following last month’s floods. Those warnings are currently in place for Northland, Auckland, the Coromandel Peninsula and the north of Tairāwhiti/Gisborne.

Angus says:

All of these places have already dealt with immense rainfall this year, and lots of them are in clean-up mode from recent flooding.

Unfortunately, we expect further flooding, slips power outages, and road closures Monday and Tuesday, prolonging this unprecedented wet summer.

Evacuations advised in some low-lying, coastal communities

Evacuations are under way in some coastal, low-lying and river-adjacent communities.

In Whangarei, the district council has advised residents living close to rivers in the central business district and Town Basin area to evacuate before high tide at 1.56pm, “because of a high risk of coastal flooding”. An evacuation centre has opened at McKay Stadium.

Elsewhere around the North Island, some communities have been self-evacuating, but officials don’t yet have data on how many. At an 11am press conference, emergency management official Roger Ball said there was no precise number of evacuations at that point.

Twenty-four Civil Defence centres and shelters opened up in Auckland overnight, including three mass evacuation centres. New Zealanders are advised to check with their local Civil Defence for details on evacuations.

People walk by a windy seashore in Auckland, New Zealand on Sunday.
People walk by a windy seashore in Auckland, New Zealand on Sunday. Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock

Cyclone tracking southward

So far the centre of the cyclone is sitting just north of New Zealand, and moving slowly southward. Here’s a satellite image from an hour ago:

You can track the cyclone via satellite in real time via Metservice.

Summary and welcome

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of Cyclone Gabrielle. I’m Tess McClure, I’m based in Auckland, and I will be keeping you up to date on developments as they come in. Here is what we know so far:

  • 58,000 homes in the North Island are without power, and some in the Northland region may not have it restored for around a week.

  • Auckland, Northland, Coromandel and the Tairāwhiti region have declared states of emergency. As of 11am, government officials said they were assessing every four hours whether a national state of emergency would be declared.

  • Evacuations have begun in some low-lying and coastal communities.

  • The cyclone has not yet made landfall, and the worst of the storm’s effects are yet to arrive, emergency management minister Kieran McAnulty said on Monday morning: “Today is the critical day in the event with a highly dangerous combination of high winds and heavy rain.”

  • National forecaster MetService has issued 30 weather warnings nationwide, with “red” weather and rain warnings for Auckland and Northland. Wind gusts have reaches up to 140km/h in Northland and 135km/h in the Hauraki Gulf, outside Auckland.

  • Auckland residents have been urged to stay home and ensure they have supplies for up to three days. Most Auckland flights and all trains are cancelled and almost every school is shut.

  • The cyclone comes a fortnight after devastating floods in Auckland and around the North Island, which killed four, damaged thousands of homes and left 370 households still in emergency accommodation. The severe winds and rain would come on top of already sodden land, risking structural problems, landslips, falling trees and power line problems. The whole Auckland region was at risk of flooding, emergency management officials said on Monday.

Minister urges people urged to hunker down

Emergency management minister Kieran McAnulty has just finished up a briefing in Auckland, urging people to finalise their preparations and then hunker down.

“To those where the weather hasn’t hit but it’s projected to, please use the time that you’ve got to get prepared. As we’ve seen in those areas that have now been hit, using that time to get prepared can make all the difference.”

Some supermarkets have run out of high-demand items, but he said those shortages would be temporary, and told people to resist panic buying. “We’re encouraging people to … only get what they need. In an event like this three days should be enough.”

He ended by urging against unnecessary risk-taking – including surfers who could be tempted by huge swells.

Please don’t go out in the flood water, please don’t go out in the high swells. We’re seeing reports and projections that some of the swells around coastal New Zealand are going to be absolutely massive – look, I’m conscious that some people might find that appealing and they might want to go surfing or whatever … please don’t do something that if you get caught will drag emergency responders away from their core task.

#Cyclone #Gabrielle #state #emergency #parts #Zealand #storm #approaches #live

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