New Zealand: Auckland prepares for more heavy rains after deadly floods


New Zealand authorities warned on Monday that the situation in flood-hit Auckland could worsen after “unprecedented” rain caused devastating floods that killed at least four people and forced hundreds of others to be evacuated to the largest city in the country.

On Monday, the New Zealand Meteorological Authority issued a red warning for heavy rain – the highest level reserved for extreme weather events – for Auckland and the neighboring Northland region for the coming days.

“Tuesday is the day we are most concerned about,” the MetService told CNN. “We are really worried about the areas north of Auckland. They appear to be bearing the brunt of the next heavy rain event.

MetService meteorologist Luis Fernandes said the heavy rains would also put Auckland at risk of landslides, which are similar to landslides.

“When you have a major rain event like this, rivers can rise quickly and roads can literally fall or be covered and can cut off communities,” he said.

About 240 millimeters (9.8 inches) of precipitation – equivalent to an entire summer’s worth of rain – fell on Auckland on Friday, making it the city’s wettest day on record.

Scientists have been warning for years that the climate crisis will amplify extreme weather events, making them deadlier and more frequent. On Sunday evening, New Zealand’s climate change minister, James Shaw, pointed to the link, tweeting “It’s climate change” in a message thanking those helping with flood relief efforts.

The northern part of New Zealand’s North Island also receives more rain than normal due to La Niña climate cycles in the Pacific Ocean which affect weather patterns around the world.

And the MetService said an additional 80-120mm of rain is expected over the next few days.

Floods block roads in Auckland on January 30, 2023.

Auckland Deputy Mayor Desley Simpson told CNN on Sunday that this amount of rain was “pretty unprecedented for Auckland”.

“We’ve had more rain in four hours than ever in Auckland’s history since we started measuring rainfall,” she said.

Meanwhile, New Zealand police said on Sunday the body of a man who went missing after being swept away by floodwaters on Friday has been found.

A drone operator located the body in the Onewhero area, south of Auckland, about 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) downriver from where it went missing, police said.

On Monday, New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said there had been “very extensive damage across Auckland”.

“Obviously there have been a number of houses damaged by flooding but also significant earth movements,” he told public broadcaster TVNZ. Some 350 people needed emergency accommodation, he added.

The rain also caused widespread travel disruption over the weekend.

More than 2,000 people spent Friday night in airport terminals due to flooding, the airport said. Domestic flights resumed on Saturday but the international terminal was not operational until Sunday.

All classes in Auckland have been canceled until February 7, Auckland MP Chlöe Swarbrick said on Monday.

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