New Zealand cancels flights amid threat of Cyclone Gabrielle

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New Zealand’s national airline canceled dozens of flights on Sunday as Aucklanders braced for a deluge from Cyclone Gabrielle, two weeks after an unprecedented storm swamped the country’s largest city, killing four people.

Air New Zealand said it would cancel all domestic flights to and from Auckland until noon on Tuesday, as well as many international flights. The airline said some international routes would continue to operate, although flights may have to be diverted from Auckland.

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

Cyclone Gabrielle was already hitting the northern part of New Zealand on Sunday. On Monday, it was expected to dump up to 250 millimeters (10 inches) of rain in Auckland.

Gabrielle’s wind speed dropped earlier as the cyclone slowed. gusts of about 130 kilometers per hour (80 miles per hour) were expected.

The MetService meteorologist said it was expecting a «widespread and major» weather event, with heavy rain, strong winds and large waves.

«Please take this seriously, we expect severe weather to come,» New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins told reporters. “So please make sure you are prepared. Make sure you have preparations in place if you have to stay in place for any period of time or if you have to evacuate.”

Earlier, the cyclone passed near remote Norfolk Island, an Australian territory that is home to about 1,750 people.

Norfolk Island Controller George Plant said on Sunday that he had issued a go-ahead. He said there was some debris on the roads and some power lines were down.

“We have been extremely lucky with the passage of the cyclone, as the most destructive winds did not reach us,” Plant wrote on Facebook. “However, there is still considerable cleanup to be done and it may take a while for services like power to be restored.”

As the cyclone began to batter New Zealand’s northern region on Sunday, flooding and winds caused some roads to close and thousands of homes without power.

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

The rapidly growing floods killed four people, caused widespread disruption and left hundreds of homes uninhabitable.

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