Flights are grounded and schools are closed as New Zealand’s biggest city braces for its second major storm in as many weeks.
Residents of Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, are holed up at home as they brace for heavy rain, flooding and gale-force winds from Cyclone Gabrielle.
People in the city and surrounding areas were asked to stay at home for all but essential travel as train services were cancelled, flights suspended and libraries and most schools closed.
Gabrielle was about 250 km (155 miles) northwest of New Zealand and is forecast to approach the east coast during the next 24 hours.
“We expect the effects of Cyclone Gabrielle will unfortunately get worse before they get better,” Auckland Emergency Management Deputy Controller Rachel Kelleher said on Monday.
“This is no time for complacency,” she added.
The cyclone comes two weeks after a record storm that inundated Auckland and killed four people.
A state of emergency was in effect in Auckland and at least five other regions.
The approaching storm has already downed trees and damaged roofs, leaving 46,000 homes without power. It was also noted that mobile phone services are uneven in some areas.
Meteorologist Georgina Griffiths said overnight Auckland and Great Barrier Island could see heavy rain and winds.
“I think parts of Auckland that haven’t seen the challenging winds yet are expected to get some storm surges overnight,” she said.
“The storm surge is still coming in and could peak at high tide at 2am for eastern parts of Auckland.”
She added that some localized landslides and surface flooding were expected, given that Auckland was already saturated.