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‘Storm of the century’ is on the way

Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle is forecast to hit the North Island tomorrow.

Modelling of the storm’s path is highly changeable, but the most recent reports from Niwa Weather suggest Wairarapa could be directly in its firing line.

Regardless of the path, it’s likely to be “one of the most serious storms of the century” for New Zealand, according to Weather Watch forecaster Phillip Duncan.

The cyclone is due just weeks after Cyclone Hale left Auckland in a sodden state of emergency, and caused extensive damage to farmland and the coastline in Wairarapa.

Niwa said the cyclone could bring very heavy rain, damaging winds and dangerous seas when it arrives in Aotearoa.

According to Niwa’s modelling on Friday, the storm is now more likely to pass just east of Northland and Auckland, and very close to Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, and East Cape.

“At this point, the worst of the weather looks to be in Northland, Auckland, Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, and potentially Wairarapa.”

The cyclone was upgraded to category three – the most severe ranking – on Friday.

By Tuesday, most modelling shows the worst of the weather will be contained in the Upper North Island near Auckland, but damaging winds were still possible for other areas, including Wairarapa, Duncan said.

Metservice said there was moderate confidence that sufficient rain to trigger a warning would lash Wairarapa, the Tararua Range and eastern Marlborough on Tuesday.

There was high confidence that east to southeast winds would reach gale force on Tuesday in southern parts of the North Island, from Taranaki
to Wellington and Wairarapa.

Niwa Weather said the track of the cyclone would play a crucial role in which regions experience the worst weather.

Duncan advised people to begin getting prepared for the storm today by cleaning out gutters and making sure loose objects, like trampolines, are tied down.

No weather watches or warnings have been issued by Metservice for Wairarapa yet. However, a 45-hour heavy swell warning has been issued for Wairarapa from 9am on Tuesday until 6am on Thursday.

Metservice said easterly combined waves could rise to four metres on Tuesday and up to seven metres that evening. Waves were then expected to ease again by Wednesday evening.

Grace Prior
Grace Prior
Grace Prior is a senior reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with a keen interest in environmental issues. Grace is the paper’s health reporter and regularly covers the rural sector, weather, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and coastal stories.

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