The New Zealand city grinds to a halt as a spate of cyclones threatens

WELLINGTON: Auckland residents ducked Monday as they braced for a deluge from Cyclone Gabrielle, two weeks after a record-breaking storm inundated New Zealand’s largest city, killing four people. Much of Auckland ground to a halt as train services halted, libraries and most schools closed and authorities urged people to only make essential travel.

Air New Zealand canceled all domestic flights to and from Auckland as well as many international flights through Tuesday noon. Some international routes would continue to operate but might need to be diverted from Auckland.

The airline also canceled domestic flights to and from the cities of Hamilton, Tauranga and Taupo.

The cyclone, which was currently in the northeast of the country and moving south, dropped more than 220 millimeters (9 inches) of rain in areas north of Auckland, cutting power to about 58,000 homes and closing many roads.

Authorities declared states of emergency in Northland, Auckland and some other regions.

Gabrielle was due to drop by Auckland overnight on Monday. Its wind speed was downgraded as the gusts eased to about 130 kilometers per hour (80 miles per hour).

Weather forecaster MetService said there was a very high probability of “extreme, impressive and unprecedented weather” in many regions, with heavy rain, strong winds and big waves. Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and some other lawmakers were unable to travel from Auckland to the capital Wellington, making it likely they would miss this year’s opening session of Parliament on Tuesday.

“Please take this seriously, we anticipate severe weather is imminent,” Hipkins told reporters on Sunday. “So please make sure you are prepared. Make sure you have preparations in place, either if you need to stay for a period of time or if you need to evacuate.”

The cyclone previously passed the remote island of Norfolk, an area of ​​Australia that is home to about 1,750 people.

Norfolk Island’s head of emergency management, George Plant, said Sunday he had given the all-clear. He said there was some debris in the streets and some power lines were down.

“We were very lucky with the passage of the cyclone as the most destructive winds narrowly missed us,” Plant wrote on Facebook on Sunday. “However, significant cleanup remains to be done and it may take a while before services like power are restored.”

Two weeks ago, Aucklanders endured the wettest day on record in the city as the amount of rain that would normally fall for an entire summer fell in a single day.

Rapidly rising floods and landslides killed four people, caused widespread disruption and rendered hundreds of homes uninhabitable. The New Zealand city grinds to a halt as a spate of cyclones threatens

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