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Flooding, landslides & power outages: Cyclone Cook wreaks havoc in NZ (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)

Weather: Cyclone Cook hits New Zealand New Zealand braces for second major storm in two weeks Add to ...
Eleena Tovar | 20 Abril, 2017, 13:44

New Zealand was bracing on Thursday for a storm that meteorologists warned could be the worst for nearly 50 years, with extreme weather alerts across the entire North Island.

Cyclone Cook, the second big storm to hit New Zealand in a week, had earlier killed one person in New Caledonia before lashing parts of New Zealand, with the north and east the hardest hit.

MetService predicted winds from the storm could gust to 150 kilometres per hour and that waves could rise to over five metre.

There were reports of roofs ripped off, windows smashed and garden furniture flung through the air and police said many roads were closed disrupting traffic as people headed away for the Easter holiday weekend.

Civil defence authorities said people from about 250 homes in the beach town of Ohope were told they had to evacuate, while other households chose to leave.

New Zealand emergency services pre-emptively evacuated some small coastal communities in the country's north, and the military was assisting relief efforts.

Heavy rain and severe gales have begun to hit the coast between Tauranga and Whakatane, with the storm making landfall after 6pm (local time) on Thursday.

Authorities are now anxious about how Cyclone Cook will impact land that is already saturated from heavy rains.

Just days into the recovery efforts from heavy rainfall and flooding resulting from the remnants of ex-Cyclone Debbie, New Zealand is bracing for another severe weather event.

The New Zealand Herald described the storm as the worst seen in New Zealand "in generations" and that authorities were considering closing the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Winds up to 150km/h are expected over Auckland, the Bay of Plenty and Wellington when Cook reaches its full force on Thursday night and Friday morning.

The NZ Transport Agency is calling on drivers to slow down and keep lights on with rain expected to lash the city's major highways and close roads.