- 20 severe weather warnings and watches in place. Heavy rain and strong winds warnings upgraded to red alert for Northland, Auckland, Coromandel and Gisborne
- A state of emergency has been declared for Northland for seven days
- 25,000 properties without electricity across parts of Auckland, Northland and Coromandel; lines company says people need to prepared for days without power
- Coromandel residents have been urged to consider evacuating early - the region is under the heaviest red rain warning
- Damage already felt across Northland
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Cyclone Gabrielle has been wreaking early havoc across the top of the North Island overnight, with thousands of homes losing power, schools closing and trains, ferries and flights cancelled in the Auckland region. The Auckland Harbour Bridge has been closed to all traffic - and is likely to be closed all day Monday - as Gabrielle tracks closer, creating waves over 11m high in the Bay of Islands.
Electricity lines company Vector said by 7pm about 15,000 Auckland customers were without power, on top of almost 8000 cut off in Northland and almost 2000 in Coromandel. “This number will change constantly as we restore homes and businesses but, with the weather due to worsen, we expect further outages overnight and tomorrow.”
On Sunday night, emergency shelters were opened in the city for people who need to leave their homes.
“We are in a fairly sheltered area of Auckland and yet our house is shaking like crazy,” one resident tweeted at 4am. “I guess im not the only one not sleeping, hate to think what it’s like for those more exposed. Stay safe y’all.”
Air New Zealand has cancelled all turboprop flights to, from or through Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga and Taupo airports from midday today until midday Tuesday. The airline is also cancelling all domestic jet services in, out and through Auckland Airport tomorrow.
Auckland Transport warned of “significant disruptions” to Auckland’s transport network. “KiwiRail, the track owner, has suspended all passenger train services in Auckland from 8pm tonight (Sunday) - for Britomart inbound services and 9pm for Britomart outbound services - to at least 3pm on Monday to protect passengers and train crews.
“Due to this late notice, rail replacement buses are not available tomorrow other than those already in place on the Onehunga Line and Southern Line between Otahuhu and Newmarket.
“People who need to travel will need to use AT’s regular scheduled bus services. Auckland Transport will continue working to source some buses for rail replacement services for tomorrow.
“KiwiRail will review conditions tomorrow afternoon, carry out inspections when it is safe to do so, and reopen the rail network as soon as possible.”
Meanwhile, a state of emergency has been declared for Northland as MetService warns the worst is yet to come.
Twenty severe weather warnings and watches have been upgraded for the North Island.
The whole North Island was put under a severe weather warning for strong wind - and Northland, Coromandel and Auckland have the highest red warning.
MetServce’s Lisa Murray, head of weather communications, said: “I can’t remember a time when the whole of the North Island was on a wind warning. “This is a huge sprawling weather system affecting the country,” Murray said. “The worst affected areas can expect 350-450mm of rain, 120-140km/h wind gusts, and dangerous waves and coastal inundation, especially at high tide.”
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Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has urged people to “take the severe weather warning seriously”.
“Make sure you’re prepared. There is no need for panic buying,” he said at a press conference in Auckland this afternoon.
Thousands of homes across Northland and Auckland are without power and one lines company has told customers to be prepared for prolonged outages.
“Some properties may be without power for days if damage is severe,” Counties Energy said.
Almost 8000 households across the Far North were without power at 7pm on Sunday.
Fullers has cancelled all its Auckland ferry services from 8.45pm on Sunday, Countdown will close several supermarkets early in affected areas and SH1 over the Brynderwyns is again closed overnight from 6pm Sunday.
Northland Emergency Management group controller Graeme MacDonald requested the region’s state of emergency so emergency powers could be used.
The declaration was made as a precaution to enable evacuations.
The Hawke’s Bay Emergency Management was also preparing for heavy rain, potentially damaging winds and large waves due to the cyclone there.
Lines company Vector’s outage map showed extensive power cuts across northern Auckland areas and Waiheke Island.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is advising motorists that the section of SH1 Brynderwyn Hills to Waipu will be closed overnight from 6pm tonight.
”Due to the amount of rainfall today and forecasted overnight, and the risk of slips, the decision has been made to close the road overnight to keep everyone, including our crews, safe. The road may be closed earlier if deemed unsafe.”
Waka Kotahi crews will reassess the road in the morning to check if it is safe to open again.
Detours will be in place overnight for light vehicles via Mangawhai and Waipū, and for heavy vehicles via SH12 and SH14.
The closure of the Brynderwyns comes only two days after the highway reopened in both directions after being closed for two weeks by storm-induced slips.
Ferries around Auckland this evening have been cancelled as ocean conditions in the Hauraki Gulf worsened.
AEM and Auckland Council say 27 civil defence centres and shelters will be open from 7pm today to provide a refuge for families who need to leave their homes to shelter from Cyclone Gabrielle.
Another 12 community-lead centres are being stood up by community groups, at marae, in local churches or in local buildings.
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