After leaving a trail of destruction in Tonga, Fiji and Samoa, Cyclone Gita is now entering New Zealand, hitting the southern North Island first and the northern half of the South Island.
It started as a monsoon in the southeast Pacific on early February, developing into what is now called Cyclone Gita in mid February.
In case you’re already in New Zealand or heading there soon, here’s a brief update on the tropical storm, and what you need to know to prepare for its consequences.
1. Current status in New Zealand
As of 6AM on Tuesday 20 February 2018, the Meteorological Service of New Zealand has issued a warning and raised the cyclone category system to category 5, the highest possible level.
Credit: @METService New Zealand on Twitter
This means that the tropical storm could bring dangerous winds up to 140km/h and waves up to 7m!
Christchurch Mayor, Lianne Dalziel has also declared a State of Emergency for Christchurch City which includes Bank Peninsula that is predicted to feel the heaviest effects of the storm.
2. Are flights being cancelled?
Air New Zealand issued a travel alert and warned of potential interruption that could occur in domestic and international services for the coming week, which could possibly leave many passengers stranded.
The regional airports that are expected to be disrupted are Hokitika, Nelson, New Plymouth and Queenstown.
Credit: @DarrynBennett on Twitter
Although Air New Zealand has cancelled all of its flight, JetStar says that it will continue to operate flights out of Wellington and monitor the weather and assess the conditions, including wind speed and direction.
So far, there is no statement from Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia about the current state in New Zealand.
#HHWT Tip: Travellers are advised to check with their respective airlines on the individual flight status. If your travel is disrupted, ensure you keep all receipts to support your travel insurance claim.
3. Which areas will be hit the hardest?
The authorities have said that the region in Marlborough will be facing gale-force winds up to 120kph!
The areas of Nelson, Buller, Taranaki, Taihape, Whanganui, Manawatu, Kapiti-Horowhenua, Wellington and Wairarapa are predicted to be lashed by 120-140kph winds and a heavy swath of rain that would trigger flooding.
Travellers are advised to stay well out of these areas for their own safety.
Credit: @Mark Weathers on Twitter
#HHWT Tip: To be completely safe, we recommend that you avoid the areas in West Coast and South Island entirely.
4. Will it affect the weather in Malaysia?
Although the tropical storm has battered Tonga, Samoa and Fiji and currently heading to New Zealand, there are currently no warnings that it will affect Malaysia.
Malaysian Meteorological Department (MET) predicted that the weather in Malaysia will be warm in the morning but you can expect thunderstorms and rains in the evening for some places.
5. Emergency contact numbers
If you’re on the ground right now, we suggest that you get in touch with your respective embassies in New Zealand to supply details of your whereabouts and ask for advice in case of emergency.
Credit: Ben on Flickr
According to Safe Travel, anyone currently in New Zealand is encouraged to monitor local news and weather reports. You can also download the MetService App (App Store/Google Play) to check the current weather!
#HHWT Tip: We also encourage that you keep your family and friends updated on your well-being.
Relevant contact numbers are as follows:
Malaysian High Commission in New Zealand:
10 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn
P.O. Box 9422
High Commission of the Republic of Singapore
17 Kabul Street
Embassy of The Republic of Indonesia
70 Glen Road
+64475 8697/+64475 8698
6. Evacuation status
Credit: @JackieKabler on Twitter
Though necessary safety protocol have been provided, New Zealanders are urged to prepare evacuation plans and delay travel as roads will be closed and driving conditions are likely to be hazardous.
Credit: @LyallBay on Twitter
New Zealand’s fire and emergency service also asked residents to stay indoors until further notice. Let’s all pray for the safety and livelihood of all those affected! ❤️