It has been a terrifying Wednesday for Aucklanders after a massive storm that appeared to take authorities by surprise pummelled the region overnight.
Winds speeds of more than 120km/h slammed the supercity on Tuesday evening and in the early hours of Wednesday. The strongest gust of 213km/h was recorded at Manukau Heads.
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Multiple homes have been severely damaged by fallen trees while collapsed power lines caused spectacular light shows across Auckland.
What you need to know:
- Auckland has been left heavily damaged following extremely strong winds
- 79,500 homes and businesses are without power
- Vector crews are working through the night to restore electricity
- Many will be without power overnight in temperatures of 7degC
- Some public transport services are not running
- Multiple homes and cars have been severely damaged by fallen trees
- Flights in and out of Auckland Airport delayed or turned away
- Residents are being asked to treat all downed lines as live and not to touch debris
- Wellington ferry services for Wednesday afternoon and evening have been cancelled
These live updates have now ended.
9:33pm - North Island in for more wind
MetService is warning residents of the upper North Island to prepare for another short, sharp spell of high winds on Thursday.
A severe weather watch has been issued for Northland and Auckland.
9:02pm - Lighting restored to Wellington Airport runway
A spokesperson says some flights may continue to be delayed or cancelled.
However the runway is now back to operating as normal.
7:43pm - Wellington Airport closed due to lightning strike
Ground lights on the runway have been affected and aircraft are unable to take off or land.
6:28pm- Toppled tree wipes out car in Parnell
Images supplied to Newshub show the car, affectionately named 'Little Red', completely crushed under a fallen tree.
5:56pm - Lines crews working through the night to restore power
Crews from Vector will be working through the night to restore power to the 91,000 households currently without electricity.
Mr Frederiksens said they're hopeful the power can be back within two to three days, provided there is not disruption from more severe weather.
He says members of the public should not be interfering with downed lines or debris, and all downed lines must be treated as live.
5:30pm - Lines company warns more outages could be in store
Mr Frederiksens says there are concerns more high winds forecast for Thursday could lead to further outages.
"The forecast is kind of indicating some more wind sort of around Thursday," he said.
"That may result in more trees, which have been kind of damaged and lost a bit of strength, actually coming down as well."
"[There might be] an increase of outages around Thursday as well."
5:08pm - Vector was on 'storm alert' before winds hit
Vector's head of networks, Minoru Frederiksens, has defended the response to the storm, saying Vector was well prepared for its impact.
"We were sort of aware of the potential storm a couple of days ago," he said.
"We actually went on storm alert yesterday. I think what actually caught everybody else is the actual sheer scale of the wind velocity.
"Everybody made as much preparation as they could with the information that they had at hand."
4:22pm - Aucklanders told to brace for cold night without power
Civil Defence is warning the sun is due to set at 6:28pm and the temperature is expected to dip to 7degC.
"Make sure you're ready to rug up in some jumpers/blankets or grab some firewood if available. Plus ensure you have torches and batteries handy," a spokesperson said.
3:41pm - Wellington ferry sailings cancelled
Metlink Wellington says adverse conditions have caused the cancellation of all ferry trips in the capital on Wednesday.
It says shuttles will be leaving from outside Mojo Coffee at 4:30pm, 5:30pm and 6:30pm.
3:21pm - Aucklanders warned not to attempt to fix damaged power lines
Auckland Civil Defence says they have heard reports of residents attempting to clear trees away from poles and move downed lines away from roads and driveways.
"Do not do this as it could put yourself [and] others at risk," a spokesperson said.
"Always treat downed lines as live and stay well clear."
2:54pm - Auckland Emergency Management defends storm response
Auckland Emergency Management has shielded itself from criticism about its communication to residents about the storm before it hit.
Director John Dragicevich said it was made very clear that something serious was on its way.
"As soon as we received advice from MetService yesterday, we advised our stakeholders and provided advice to the public via social media. This was updated throughout the night and this morning," he said.
"At the same time, and following the devastating tornado and high winds in Taranaki, the MetService's advice that the storm system was moving north, was extensively covered by media."
"We must remember that there will always be some uncertainty with weather events and their impact - but Auckland Emergency Management, and the region’s emergency responders and power providers, planned and acted appropriately."
Emergency services received 1800 calls related to the storm and are still working through a backlog from the calls.
Auckland Council received 1000 calls relating to fallen trees and power outages, Mr Dragicevich says clean up from the storm will continue over the next few days.
2:18pm - Huge number of storm related insurance claims
AA insurance says it received more than a weeks' worth of claims in one night from customers reporting storm damage.
"Our team has seen a large increase in calls to lodge home and motor claims related to storm damage, which is far more than we’d expect in a typical week," said customer relations manager Amelia Macandrew.
"Claims have included trees falling on roofs, windows being sucked out of houses and roofs collapsing.
"We won’t know the extent of the damage or the cost until our customers are able to make a full assessment of their property, but we expect the number of claims to rise over the coming days."
1:35pm - Auckland Zoo rehouses leopard tortoises
"It's a tor-tal evacuation! Our leopard tortoises were re-homed this morning by keepers Rosie and Ash after part of their roof blew off in Auckland's storm last night," the Zoo says on Twitter.
"We hope to repair their roof and have them back to their home soon!"
An image shows the tortoises being transported in wheelbarrows.
1:00pm - Double-decker bus crash causes another power outage
Vector has another power outage on its hands after a double-decker bus crashed into a power pole on Mt Eden Rd.
No-one on the bus was injured in the collision at Watling St intersection, which shattered the vehicle's front windscreen.
Police say a section of both roads is closed and diversions are in place.
12:40pm: Weather Watch explains what caused the gales
"The strong damaging winds were forecast but the level of the winds was definitely a notch higher, causing far more widespread issues," Weather Watch says.
"The good news is that the worst has now passed and while some blustery weather off and on over the next couple of days we're not currently anticipating any repeat performances."
11:45am - More rain and snow on the way
WeatherWatch says the worst of the storm may be behind us - but we're in for another blasting of rain and snow.
11:30am - Zoo animals affected by storm
11:20am - Civil Defence issues power cut guide
Damage to the electricity network in Auckland remains extensive, with around 105,000 homes and businesses affected.
"More than 100 field outage staff are spread throughout the region responding to lines down, faults, power outages, and other damage to infrastructure," a Vector spokesperson says.
"So far they have restored power to approximately 75,000 people. However, the damage to the network is extensive and widespread and it may be several days until power is restored in some areas."
Civil Defence has issued a guide on how to survive the power cut.
- Keep your fridge and freezer closed to keep food chilled.
- Throw away any frozen food that has been exposed to temperatures 4degC for two hours or more or that has an unusual odour, colour or texture. When in doubt, throw it out.
- If food in the freezer is colder than 4degC and has ice crystals on it, you can refreeze it.
- Contact your doctor if you're concerned about medications having spoiled.
- Restock your emergency kit with fresh batteries, canned foods and other supplies.
- If your power is expected to be out for a day, conserve your hot water.
11:00am - Air NZ warns of 'significant disruption'
Air NZ is experiencing significant disruption today as a result of weather conditions and the temporary closure of the Auckland Airport runway last night.
With further disruption expected customers are advised to consider deferring any non-urgent travel.
Those that must travel today are advised to expect disruptions and to consult the airline's Arrivals and Departures page for the latest information.
Air New Zealand warns customers that the airline won't be responsible for any costs because of disrupted travel if customers continue their journey as planned.
10:50am - School closures announced
Stormy weather has forced the closure of a number of schools and early learning services (ECEs) in Auckland, Waikato and Taranaki.
The Ministry of Education says the list of closures is:
Ardmore School, Auckland; Henderson Valley, Auckland; Kowhai Intermediate, Auckland; Westlake Girls, Auckland; Dairy Flat School, Auckland; Mangere College, Auckland; Northcote Primary School, Auckland; St Leonards School, Auckland; Samoa Moni, Auckland; Kelston Boys High, Auckland; Waioneke School, Auckland; Sunnyvale School, Auckland; Riverhead School, Auckland; St Josephs Orakei, Auckland; Orautoha School, Taranaki; Rahotu School, Taranaki; Whatawhata School, Waikato; Matatoki School, Waikato; Hikuai School, Waikato; Tairua School, Waikato; Whenuakite School, Waikato.
Le Malelega a le toelau, Auckland; Seedlings Nature Kindergarten, Taranaki; Maxwell, Taranaki; Merrilands, Taranaki; Waiouru, Taranaki; Little Hands Childcare, Auckland; Learning Steps Child Care Centre, Gt North Road, Auckland; New Shoots Early Child Care, Westgate, Auckland; Iona Child Care, Swanson, Auckland; Loving Care Kindergarten, Auckland; Magnolia Tree, Waikato; Creative Kids, Waikato; Whenuakite Country Kids, Waikato; Pauanui Preschool, Waikato; Kidz Unlimited Learning Centre, Mt Albert, Auckland.
"The best information will come from schools and early learning services themselves," the Ministry says.
"Parents are advised to check school or early childhood service websites or Facebook pages or contact them directly."
10:35am - Quarter of Auckland caught in black-out
Around a quarter of properties in the Auckland region are without power this morning following last night's storm.
Around 120,000 properties are currently without power and power companies are working to restore this, says Auckland's Civil Defence.
Auckland emergency management director John Dragicevich says contractors have been out all night to remove trees that are impeding power restoration work.
"We are working quickly to determine the full extent of the damage from last night's storm," he says.
"We will be prioritising cleaning up trees that have damaged power lines and clearing the roads from any storm debris that will impede traffic flow."
10:25am - Storm leaves debris strewn across Auckland
Newshub reporter Sam Farrell warns more bad weather is on the way.
10:15am - Mass phone outrages after storm
About 6000 households and businesses on Chorus' network in the storm-hit areas are without phone or broadband services.
"The majority of the issues on the networks have been caused by power outages," Chorus says.
"The multiple power outages means that some Chorus sites (cabinets and exchanges) are running on battery back-up systems or generators which will help keep cell and radio sites running."
Technicians will prioritise medical escalations as they are raised by retail phone and broadband providers.
09:50am - Road snow warnings out for Desert Road
"Road snow warnings out for Desert Road and Napier-Taupo highway," MetService says.
"A few snow showers are likely down to 700 metres this morning, and 1 to 2cm may settle near the summit of the road until midday today, with lesser amounts down to 700 metres."
09:25am - Wind gust strong as a category 2 tropical cyclone
NIWA says its Sky Tower climate station recorded a peak gust of 146.16 km/h at 9:20 pm on Tuesday.
"A wind gust of this magnitude is typical of a category 2 tropical cyclone," it says on Twitter.
09:00am - Traffic chaos across Auckland
"This is universal drive in west Auckland, traffic backed up, trees down and power outages," says Jason Dunn.
08:35am - More storm gusts in store for North Island
"Across the North Island today, winds will remain gusty but not nearly as strong or destructive as Tuesday," NIWA says on Twitter.
"With damp grounds, it may not take as much to bring down smaller trees or branches."
08:15am - What you need to know about the storm
Auckland has been blasted by a terrifying storm. Winds the strength of a category two cyclone have downed trees, powerlines and caused widespread damage across the city.
At the height of the storm, emergency services had more than 1600 calls within six hours.
07:45am - Tree damaged in front of NIWA's office
An unlucky tree has had a large branch torn off in front of NIWA's office.
"Directly in front of our @niwa_nz #Auckland office. #irony," NIWA says on Twitter.
07:30am - Weather Watch issues latest forecast
A strong cold southwesterly airflow covers New Zealand today, with rain or showers for most regions.
07:20am - Damage and destruction around Auckland
New photos show the chaos the storm has caused around Auckland, with windows blown out and trees pulled down around the city.
07:10am - Auckland Transport issues travel warning
There is damage across Auckland this morning after last night's severe storm.
"There are traffic lights, motorway signage and traffic cameras not working because of power outages and there may be surface flooding and storm debris on the roads," a NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) spokesperson says.
"Please only travel if you have to and approach uncontrolled intersections with caution and observe normal give way rules."
NZTA says all motorways across the Auckland network and the Auckland Harbour Bridge are open.
The following local roads have partial closures:
- Henderson Valley Rd near Parrs Rd, Henderson
- Woodside Rd, Massey
- Temple St, Meadowbank
- Maskell St, St Heliers
06:50am - Ministry of Education urges parents to check school closures
The Ministry is asking parents and whanau to keep in touch with their children's school/kura or early learning service (ECE) to get information on possible closures this morning.
On Tuesday 19 schools and four ECEs closed as a result of severe weather.
"We advise parents to check their school or early childhood service websites or Facebook pages or contact them directly," the Ministry says.
"The decision to close remains that of the Board of Trustees for schools and centre managers/owners for early learning services."
06:30am - Widespread damage to Auckland's electricity network
Strong, intense winds and heavy rain have caused widespread damage on the electricity network throughout Auckland. More than 100,000 homes and businesses have been affected to date.
Vector's response crews have worked through the night to restore power to homes and businesses affected by the more than 150 outages across the region.
"Work will continue this morning to assess the damage caused to power lines and other infrastructure and to restore power where it is possible and safe to do so," a Vector spokesperson says.
"While every effort is being made to restore power for everyone as quickly as possible, this may take some time.
"Please always treat downed lines as live and stay well clear."
06:10am - Storm affects rail services
The overnight storm is causing issues on the Auckland rail network this morning.
Western line services are starting and terminating at Henderson, and there are some rail replacement buses.
The Pukekohe to Papakura shuttle is not operating and there are some rail replacement buses.
All other services are operating but there may be delays and power may be out at some stations.
06:00am - MetService warns of more wind gusts
Winds will be easing in Auckland later on Wednesday morning but MetService is still warning of strong gusts.
Lead forecaster Michael Martens says there will also be continuous showers throughout the day "which could be thundery again especially from the afternoon".
"And if the very cold air is starting to move over the north of the North Island we can expect some hail in the afternoon and evening," he says.
05:40am - Emergency services respond to disaster
Fire communications shift manager Daniel Nicholson says it's been a busy night with a lot of damage.
"For people that need to travel to work or where they need to go in the morning, you just need to be cautious," he says.
"Be aware that there will be trees down; there could be debris on the road.
"[Don't] travel if you don't feel like you have to."
Vector and Auckland Council are working to get trees and power lines off the road.
05:30am - Widespread damage across Auckland
Social media users continue to post the damage the winds have caused online.