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  • 1440 Daily Digest

New Zealand Cyclone

Cyclone Gabrielle above New Zealand (Source: Hinawari 8 satellite)

New Zealand declared its third state of emergency ever yesterday as Cyclone Gabrielle swept through its North Island. The nation’s strongest storm since the 1990s knocked out power for tens of thousands of people, disrupted transportation, and delayed a speech from the country’s new prime minister. Wind speeds approached 100 mph, with reports of 8 inches or more of rain in some areas just weeks after Auckland recorded its wettest month in 170 years.

The Pacific island country’s typically mild climate has received rare levels of rain this southern summer, a period normally marked by drought. An unusually protracted La Nina—a cyclical shift in Pacific Ocean temperatures—has fueled more rain by sustaining warmer temperatures in area seas. Few tropical cyclones of this strength reach New Zealand intact, which is roughly the distance from the equator as North Carolina. Generally, only one cyclone will affect New Zealand each year (read overview).

See an image of the storm from space here.

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