More rain to prolong threat of life-threatening flooding in New Zealand
AccuWeather meteorologists say that more rain is on the way for the drenched islands of New Zealand just days after an epic deluge led to deadly and record-breaking flooding.
The country's largest city, Auckland, is home to more than 1.6 million people who have been battling the worst of the heavy rain and flooding for several days in what Prime Minister Chris Hipkins called an "unprecedented event" on Twitter Friday.
New Zealand police confirmed that at least four people were killed in the dangerous flooding around Auckland. A state of emergency in and around the city, which was declared on Friday, remained in effect as of Monday evening, local time.
While heavy rain began to impact northern New Zealand starting on Thursday, the heaviest rain arrived on Friday, Jan. 27. According to the weather service in New Zealand, Auckland observed 79% of its normal summer rainfall amount in just 15 hours on Friday.
Reuters reported that the flooding could go down as the country's most expensive weather event ever, citing insurers who have been counting a number of claims.
Auckland's deputy mayor, Desley Simpson, told CNN that the city "had more rain in four hours than we have had ever in the history of Auckland since we have started measuring rainfall."
A state of emergency has been declared in Auckland due to severe flooding.
The largest city in New Zealand was hit by a heavy downpour, as a result of which the city itself was flooded and the airport flooded.
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Auckland International Airport reported 9.8 inches (249 mm) of rain, breaking the 24-hour rainfall record that dates back nearly 40 years. The downpours flooded terminals and caused prolonged travel delays that even shut down the airport for a time. More than 2,000 travelers and airport staff were stranded at the airport after heavy rains cut off roadways, 1 News reported. Air New Zealand reported on Monday that there were still cancellations and delays for flights into and out of the airport.
Rainfall amounts last week surpassed the 1-foot mark in half a dozen towns in and around the region, including Beach Haven. The town, north of the heart of Auckland, reported 14.56 inches (370 mm) of rain through Friday evening alone.
Landslides, water rescues and home damage were reported throughout the area due to the heavy rain.
The heavy rain also slowed commuting on the roadways in the Auckland area. Video footage surfaced on Sunday of water levels so high on the roadways that cars were almost completely submerged. The water rose high enough that a transportation bus full of people started to take on water while traversing the flooded roadway.
The flooded roads and the extended risk of additional flooding have caused schools to cancel classes across Auckland until Feb. 7.
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AccuWeather forecasters say that the flood situation in Auckland could worsen in the next few days.
"Another round of heavy rain and gusty winds is expected across northern New Zealand into Wednesday morning, local time," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist and Lead International Forecaster Jason Nicholls.
Heavy rainfall in Auckland, New Zealand, totaled more than a foot across the region on Friday, Jan. 27, leaving the Eden Park stadium, and other parts of the city underwater over the weekend. (Photo/AFP)
During this time, Nicholls warns that another widespread 2-3 inches (50-75mm) of rain could drench the Auckland area, with locally higher amounts possible in more persistent downpours.
"The gusty winds are of particular concern. With the very saturated, unstable ground trees may topple more easily and lead to power outages," Nicholls said.
The rainfall rates are expected to become less prolific on Thursday before a drier weather pattern takes over at the end of the week. This break in the rain should help floodwaters recede and expedite clean-up efforts across the region, according to AccuWeather meteorologists.
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