Thames-Coromandel District Council has reported that the eye of Cyclone Gabrielle is now directly over the Coromandel and is forecast to head southeast and move off by Tuesday afternoon.
Once the cyclone moves, the strong winds will turn westerly and impact the Firth of Thames and State Highway 25 (Thames Coast Road).
The barometric pressure for the Firth of Thames later today will be at 962 p/a, which is almost as low as Cyclone Bola in 1988.
Local Civil Defence controller Garry Towler says the storm is going to be intense and dangerous for anyone not hunkered down and safe.
“Get to somewhere safe and secure now and stay there for the next 24 hours, don’t take any risks.”
Civil Defence has about 150 personnel responding, supporting and standing by for the event, many have travelled from across the region and elsewhere in New Zealand to be here to help Thames-Coromandel District.
“Our sincere thanks go to the ‘cavalry’ for coming to our aid, we really need this support as we have been absolutely smashed these past six weeks and resources are very stretched,” says Towler.
The Countdown Whitianga supermarket closed at 2pm today and Whitianga New World is closing at 7pm tonight.
All Thames-Coromandel Refuse Transfer Stations (RTS) are closed today and tomorrow and there are no kerbside rubbish and recycling collections today or tomorrow.
Thames Centennial Pool is also closed today and tomorrow.
Hauraki District has declared the state of emergency at 3.39pm today.
Hauraki mayor Toby Adams says residents don’t need to “get paranoid just yet”.
“Declaring early makes sure we are prepared and have the tools in our tool box that we need to respond should the need arise... It’s more a precaution at this stage.”
Meanwhile, Ruapehu District is on high alert as the local Civil Defence is on stand-by for potential impacts from Cyclone Gabrielle.
The central region’s local Civil Defence controller Clive Manley says that an Incident Control Point has been established at Ruapehu Civil Defence Taumarunui base to monitor and respond to any situations as required.
The northern Ruapehu district includes National Park, Taumarunui and other northern areas which are currently under an orange strong wind warning and heavy rain watch with severe gale gusting 120 km/h to 130 km/h in exposed places and periods of heavy easterly rain that may approach warning criteria.
Southern Ruapehu district covering Waimarino-Waiouru area (Ohakune, Raetihi, Waiouru) is under an orange strong wind warning with scattered rain, becoming persistent this afternoon, strong south-easterlies, gale in exposed places, gusting 120 km/h.
Neighbouring Waitomo District is also preparing for the arrival of Cyclone Gabrielle and has closed the library and i-Site for today.
Waitomo refuse and recycling services for February 14 have been cancelled, and collection will occur next week as normal. While the local water treatment process is currently not affected, the council encourages everyone to conserve water in case the water source becomes impacted.
Ōtorohanga residents are asked to prepare for a planned power outage at 4pm today.
Waipa Networks are setting up two power generators to reduce the impact of power outages during Cyclone Gabrielle and to ensure essential services can continue to operate throughout this weather event.
One generator will be connected at Kawhia’s 48 Charlton Street next to the Fire Station and one on Jervois Street next to the Town Hall.
To connect the generators, the power will need to be turned off for approximately one hour from 4pm to a minimal number of businesses.
This will impact nearby businesses such as the Kāwhia Motel, Kāwhia Boating & Angling Club Inc Kāwhia Fire Brigade, Kāwhia Rowing Regatta Club and Kāwhia General Store.
Department of Conservation facilities throughout Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay were also closed to the public today.
These facilities include DOC offices, tracks, huts, campsites and visitor centres.
DOC’s Deputy Director-General Organisation Support, Mike Tully, says the department’s priority is the safety and well-being of its staff, visitors, contractors, and volunteers.
“Those weather impacts create a risk to people in the outdoors, we are strongly urging the public to stay home, stay safe and hunker down.
“The great outdoors is not the place to be in a cyclone.”