In this file photo dated to May 25, 2020, a man (left) walks past shops roped off after they sustained damage in the Perth suburb of Bedford, after the area was lashed by gale force winds and a tidal surge from the remnants of Tropical Cyclone Mangga. Cyclone Gabrielle, headed for New Zealand, brought destructive winds to Australia's Norfolk Island on Feb 11, 2023. (PHOTO / REUTERS)
SYDNEY – Cyclone Gabrielle, headed for New Zealand, brought destructive winds to Australia's Norfolk Island on Saturday as it closed in on the tiny external territory in the Pacific Ocean.
Gabrielle, a Category 2 tropical cyclone with winds of up 155 km per hour, was 195 km northwest of Norfolk Island, where conditions were deteriorating, Australia's weather bureau said on Saturday afternoon.
Australia's weather bureau said the cyclone's center would pass over or near Norfolk Island – an Australian territory 1,500 km east of Sydney – on Saturday evening
The forecaster said the cyclone's center would pass over or near Norfolk Island – an Australian territory 1,500 km east of Sydney – on Saturday evening.
Last month Auckland and parts of the North Island were hit by record rainfall that sparked widespread floods and killed four people.
Air New Zealand said in a statement it was cancelling several North Island flights scheduled from Sunday to Tuesday.
Norfolk Island covers just over 34 square km in the Pacific Ocean, between New Caledonia and New Zealand.
Its roughly 2,000 residents, some descended from British sailors who mutinied on the HMS Bounty in the 18th century, have been fuelling up emergency power generators and tying down outdoor equipment and objects ahead of the cyclone's arrival.
The island's emergency management authority issued an alert on Saturday afternoon, saying most businesses would close and urging residents to stay inside.
"Gale-force winds and high waves are currently developing and conditions may worsen overnight as the center of the cyclone moves past," the Bureau of Meteorology said.
Australia's mainland is not expected to be hit by the cyclone, but in New Zealand some North Island regions including Auckland – the country's biggest city – have been preparing for it to spark bad weather
It said the weather system, heading towards the island at 20 kph, would bring abnormally heavy rain, high tides and very heavy surf, which it said could cause local damage and coastal erosion.
"The community are doing the right thing and we're in as good a place as we can be," Norfolk Island Administrator Eric Hutchinson told ABC television.
Australia's mainland is not expected to be hit by the cyclone, but in New Zealand some North Island regions including Auckland – the country's biggest city – have been preparing for it to spark bad weather.
The country's weather forecaster, MetService, said it expected Gabrielle to move towards New Zealand in coming days.
"We expect to see impacts from this cyclone from Sunday starting in the north and spreading south to other parts of northern and central New Zealand," the forecaster said on Saturday.
Auckland Emergency Management said the city was likely to be hit by Gabrielle's strong winds on Sunday night, with the worst of the cyclone's impact forecast for Monday and Tuesday.
Winds of up to 140 kph, or possibly higher, were predicted from Monday, the agency said.
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