Cyclone Gabrielle’s Projected Path and Timing
New Zealand’s North Island is in for more potential flooding as Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle is headed our way. The storm is expected to bring extreme weather in the coming days.
Gabrielle, which formed in the Coral Sea, is expected to track Southeast toward New Zealand over the next couple of days and reach the North of the country by Sunday. If the cyclone moves close to New Zealand, it could result in “one of the most serious storms forecast for New Zealand this century” according to WeatherWatch.
MetService meteorologist Lewis Ferris stated that the weather system is expected to bring heavy wind, which the previous flooding did not have, potentially causing slips, fallen trees, power outages, and coastal erosion. Gisborne District Council is also urging people in isolated areas to stock up on food and medical supplies ahead of the approaching storm. Despite some uncertainty over the exact path of the cyclone, the MetService has predicted high confidence of heavy rain starting around Sunday evening for Gisborne and the north of Gisborne, with a forecast of 100mm of rain for the district.
Auckland’s state of emergency extended
Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown extended Auckland’s state of emergency for a further 7 days. Gabrielle is expected to escalate to a category 3, with an average wind speed of 119kph to 157kph, by Friday morning. MetService has warned of very large waves and a storm surge impacting northern and eastern coastlines from Sunday to Monday.
Cyclone Gabrielle’s projected timeline according to WeatherWatch:
Sunday – Easterlies will intensify with gusty winds developing in the north of Auckland. Some rain is expected to start falling.
Monday – The centre of the cyclone is expected to reach New Zealand’s North in the evening and overnight, bringing peak damaging winds and the heaviest rain on Monday and Tuesday.
Tuesday – The cyclone will travel down the North Island.
Wednesday – The conditions across New Zealand will start to improve, but strong winds and some rain will persist.
MetService weather warnings
A Heavy Rain Watch has been issued for Northland and Auckland north of Whangaparaoa for a period of 71 hours starting from 1 am on Sunday, 12 February until midnight on Tuesday, 14 February. The forecast indicates that there will be periods of heavy rain and that rainfall amounts may approach warning criteria on Sunday. However, a more significant period is expected from Monday morning through Tuesday morning, where rainfall amounts of 150-200mm in 24 hours may occur. The forecast also notes that this may be upgraded to an Orange or possibly Red warning in the coming days.
A similar Heavy Rain Watch has also been issued for the Coromandel area for a period of 62 hours starting from 10 am on Sunday, 12 February.
A Strong Wind Watch has also been issued for Northland and Auckland north of Whangaparaoa for a period of 66 hours starting from 6 am on Sunday, 12 February. The forecast indicates that east to southeast winds may approach severe gale in exposed places and that this may be upgraded to an Orange or possibly Red warning in the coming days.
Preparations for Cyclone Gabrielle
Auckland Emergency Management (AEM) has shifted its focus to preparing the region for the potential impacts of the weather system, with an increased number of evacuation centers expected to be announced in the coming days. AEM advises residents to prepare for the severe weather by packing a bag with essential items, stocking up on emergency supplies, clearing debris and leaves from drains and gutters, and securing items like wheelie bins and trampolines.
The Council and Defense Force are working to clear flood-damaged items off curbsides and the Healthy Waters team is preparing the stormwater network for the expected rain.
How to get prepared
• Plan and rehearse an emergency escape plan to get to safer ground.
• Have arrangements in place in case you have to evacuate your pets or livestock.
• Have a plan in place to check on vulnerable neighbors – The Hello Project is an excellent tool to support you in this.
• Prepare your property for flooding – check that drains are clear, put sandbags down in relevant areas, secure trampolines and outdoor furniture and make sure your car is on higher ground.
• Medical Emergency Kit: Get an easy-to-carry emergency kit together with essentials you might need in case of an emergency. Keep the kit close to your exit points.
• Emergency Supplies: Gather emergency supplies you might need in case you don’t have access to fresh drinking water or food.
Psychological Effects of Natural Disasters
There is no doubt that thousands of people, especially in Auckland were impacted by the devastating Auckland floods that took place on 27 January. With an estimated 20,000 claims filed, it’s clear that the impact of that natural disaster was like nothing we’ve ever experienced (in Auckland at least), but what psychological effect did that have on us, and what effect does the knowledge that we are possibly facing a potentially worse storm have on us?
Natural disasters can have a profound psychological impact on those affected by them, and the anxiety of a possible looming storm adds to it all the more.
Stress and Anxiety: The trauma and uncertainty associated with a natural disaster can cause high levels of stress and anxiety, which can last for a long time after the event has passed.
Depression: The loss of homes, possessions and loved ones can lead to feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and depression.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Natural disasters can trigger traumatic memories and lead to symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, and avoidance behavior, which can be signs of PTSD.
Substance Abuse: The stress and trauma associated with natural disasters can lead some people to turn to substance abuse as a way to cope with their feelings.
Grief and Bereavement: Natural disasters can lead to the loss of life, which can result in intense grief and bereavement.
Difficulty with Trust and Intimacy: After a natural disaster, some people may find it difficult to trust others or develop close relationships, which can have a significant impact on their overall mental health.
The psychological impact of natural disasters can vary greatly, and some people may be more resilient than others in the face of such events. Access to mental health support and resources can be a crucial factor in helping people cope. If you or someone you know are suffering from any of these, please contact the number/s below.
If you have a loved one, friend, or even a neighbor struggling with the above it is crucial to look out for each other. Be supportive, be patient, and be loving. Do what you can no matter how small.
Mental Health National helplines
Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counselor.
Lifeline – 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP).
Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email [email protected] or online chat.
Samaritans – 0800 726 666
Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO).
Healthline – 0800 611 116