New Zealand cancels dozens of flights due to Cyclone Gabrielle warning

Sandbags are placed along the coastline as Cyclone Gabrielle de Coromandel, south of Auckland, pounds on Sunday (New Zealand Herald)

Sandbags are placed along the coastline as Cyclone Gabrielle de Coromandel, south of Auckland, pounds on Sunday (New Zealand Herald)

Dozens of flights have been canceled and schools closed in New Zealand as Auckland, the country’s largest city, braces for Cyclone Gabrielle, which is expected to bring a massive deluge.

The country’s largest airline, Air New Zealand, has announced the cancellation of all domestic flights to and from Auckland until midday on Tuesday, as well as many international flights.

Some international routes would remain operational, according to the airline, although flights from Auckland may be diverted.

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

While there is no official order from the ministry yet, certain services, such as the InterCity bus network, have also announced a reduction in their service routes.

Meanwhile, more than 36 schools and universities in Auckland will close from Monday, Radio New Zealand reported.

As the cyclone made landfall in New Zealand’s Northland region on Sunday, flooding and strong winds closed some roads and knocked out thousands of homes.

Cyclone Gabrielle was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone on Saturday but is still considered a “widespread and significant” weather event by the country’s Met Service.

Up to 250 millimeters of rain is predicted to fall on Auckland as a result of the storm, with gusts of around 130 kilometers per hour and significant waves also expected.

New Zealand’s newly elected Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has called on all citizens to take the storm warning seriously and limit unnecessary travel.

“Please take this seriously, we expect severe weather to come,” Mr Hipkins told reporters at a briefing on Saturday.

So please be prepared. Make sure you have made preparations in case you have to stay for a while or if you have to evacuate.”

Previously, the cyclone passed near remote Norfolk Island, a territory of Australia home to about 1,750 people, resulting in some road debris and disruptions to some power lines.

“We have been extremely lucky with the passage of the cyclone as the most destructive winds just missed us,” Norfolk Island’s emergency management controller, George Plant, wrote in an update on Facebook.

“However, there is still a lot to clean up and it may take some time for services, such as power, to be restored.”

Two weeks ago, Aucklanders witnessed the city’s wettest day on record, with the amount of rain that would normally fall in a single day throughout the summer.

The rapidly rising water took the lives of four people, caused great destruction and made hundreds of houses uninhabitable.

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