Flights cancelled as New Zealand waits for storm to hit

Nick Mcbride
April 20, 2017

Heavy rain and strong winds are lashing parts of New Zealand as Cyclone Cook, called the worst storm in decades, sweeps across the North Island.

Earlier this weekCyclone Cook swept through Vanuatu and New Caledonia, where it killed one person.

Heavy rain further south should gradually ease from the north over the next 12 hours.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc (NZKGI) chief executive Nikki Johnson said on Wednesday: "The focus at this stage is on pumping water from orchards to enable harvest to take place and to limit the long-term damage to the plants".

New Zealand weather officials have said that the cyclone will be the worst to hit the country since 1968. It moved on to batter Hawkes Bay on the eastern coast, where two people were hospitalised after a tree hit their auto, the New Zealand Herald reported. MetService's rain radar indicates that this area contains very heavy rainfall, which is expected to move onto Coromandel Peninsula and Bay of Plenty from this afternoon ahead of the low centre this evening.

That means it has changed into a different kind of weather system on approach to New Zealand, but has not necessarily weakened or been downgraded, according to the New Zealand MetService.

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The ministry said: "This is an extremely serious weather event".

New Zealand authorities have ordered mandatory evacuations and floods are threatening homes as Cyclone Cook arrives in the Bay of Plenty.

The New Zealand Transport Agency urged motorists to stay off the roads if possible, saying conditions would be hazardous.

The most important airline Air New Zealand canceled most of their flights, while the army was mobilized by the government to protect and rescue.

The cyclone is forecast to move towards parts of the South Island on Friday. But a local state of emergency has been re-issued for the Whakatane District which bore the brunt of the ferocious storm.

Other reports by VgToday

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