Cyclone Gabrielle in New ZealandOn February 19, 2023 by Kashika Saxena
The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the NASA satellite received an image at about 3 p.m. local time on February 14, 2023. It depicts cyclone Gabrielle as it moved towards the southeast. As
the storm centred near the North Island, and its cloud bands spanned over the country. The heavy downpour of drenching rains in February was followed by a storm that hit the country in late January. During that storm, New Zealand saw all-time daily high rainfall records, which contributed to the
city’s wettest January on record.
According to New Zealand’s Meteorological Department, an average of 10 tropical cyclones form in the tropical South Pacific each year between November and April. Of those, about one will affect New Zealand as an ex-tropical cyclone, most often in February-March.
Cyclone Gabrielle hit New Zealand as a dominant subtropical storm after transitioning from a tropical cyclone. Heavy downfall from the still- the powerful storm began falling on the island nation on February 11 and continued for the next several days. At Hawke’s Bay Airport, it reached 175.8 millimetres over 24 hours from February 13-14. That’s more than three times the average amount is usually seen during the entire month of February.
At around 7 a.m. local time on February 15, the cyclone continued to proceed slowly toward the southeast and away from New Zealand. Still, alerts for heavy rain and swell remained in effect along some central parts of the nation.
Cyclone, Gabrielle, which hit New Zealand on Sunday has cut off entire towns, washed away farms, bridges, and livestock, inundated homes, and stranded people before making its way down the east coast of the North Island.
A volunteer firefighter, Craig Stevens, died in a hospital after being caught in a landslide near Auckland, and a body was found near Napier, the death toll has increased to seven. Authorities have already warned
that the country needs to be prepared for the death toll to increase. Communication and access to several areas remained difficult, and surveillance flights were being undertaken to survey the damage and
locate those who may be isolated. Motorcades carrying essential items such as food, water, medicine, and fuel made their way into isolated areas, and the military force was using ships to transport necessary items into areas of the east coast.
The Prime Minister, Hipkins, visited storm-hit Gisborne on Thursday and described the damage as “extensive”, with basics like food and clean potable water is still a necessity, and warned that there were some people for whom the police officials held “grave concerns”. As of 2.30 pm on Thursday, 3,455 people had been registered by police as “untraceable”, with some likely to be multiple reports for the same person. Prime Minister added, “I can confirm that NEMA [National Emergency Management Agency] has accepted an agency-to-agency offer for emergency response support and expertise”.
He described the intensity of the Gabrielle as an event on the scale of the Christchurch earthquake in 2011. With the extent of the damage still unfolding, Auckland requested Australia’s help for disaster response.
Kiri Allan, minister of regional development, who also lives in one of the most badly affected areas, told that supplies had been reaching some of the most remote communities, supermarkets were now better stocked, and the phone network was even returning in the outskirts. In Hawke’s Bay, choppers and boats were going out to check on people in isolated communities while search-and-rescue teams were also deployed.
Recovery efforts continued in the worst affected areas of New Zealand on Friday after Cyclone Gabrielle caused chaos, leaving at least seven people dead and displacing 10,000 people in the country’s most damaging storm in decades.
As flood waters have receded, it is revealing huge annihilation: homes partly immersed in silt and soil or shifted off the under structures. District Police commander Supt Jeanette Park said on Thursday morning, “It’s just unbelievable the devastation. When you see it, it’s hard to even comprehend”. The current weather conditions began to improve. The meteorological department said it no longer had any
weather alerts in New Zealand and sunshine was forecast for most of the North Island.
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