New Zealand Declares Rare Emergency for Cyclone

    New Zealand Declares Rare Emergency for Cyclone
    Last updated Feb 14, 2023
    Image credit: Le Monde/AFP


    • New Zealand declared a state of emergency for just the third time in its history on Tuesday, as Cyclone Gabrielle destroyed roads, flooded homes, and left more than 100K people without electricity.[1]
    • Rising waters stranded people on rooftops, roads were submerged by floodwaters and houses were swept away by landslides. Prime Minister Chris Hipkins told reporters, “It has been a big night for New Zealanders across the country, but particularly in the upper North Island…a lot of families displaced, a lot of homes without power, extensive damage done across the country.”[2]
    • Parts of the North Island have been completely cut off due to damaged roads and flooding, with the military supporting evacuations and delivering supplies in the worst-affected areas.[3]
    • So far, about 2.5K people have been displaced and another 225K people are without electricity. New Zealand's Minister for Emergency Management called the event "unprecedented" for the North Island.[4]
    • Auckland Airport canceled all domestic flights for the rest of Tuesday because of the strong winds. The New Zealand Meteorological Service recorded wind gusts of over 87 miles per hour (140 kilometers per hour) and waves reaching 36 feet high (11 meters) along the coast, while other regions, including Wellington, will receive additional rainfall of up to 150 millimeters through Thursday.[5]
    • New Zealand has declared national-scale emergencies only twice before — once after a 2011 earthquake and again for COVID in 2020.[6]


    Narrative A

    Cyclone Gabrielle is the most significant weather event New Zealand has seen in a century. Cyclones and other extreme climate-catalyzed weather disasters will ultimately change how nations like New Zealand build safe and sustainable communities. New Zealand has made many mistakes regarding sustainable planning in the past and it's time to confront a new normal.

    Narrative B

    It's easy to dismiss any extreme weather event as a consequence of climate change, but in reality, they're usually influenced by a myriad of factors that have nothing to do with it. More research is needed before we can establish any direct causal link between the two.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 50% chance that the total damage incurred by climate change during the 21st century will be at least 8.84% of world GDP, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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