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Northland has declared a state of emergency and the Auckland Harbour Bridge has been closed as steady rain and strong winds from Cyclone Gabrielle hit Aotearoa New Zealand today, but MetService says this is just the beginning.

The Northland Regional council said a precautionary state of emergency had been declared for an initial period of seven days, as part of the regional response to Cyclone Gabrielle.

It said emergency declarations were relatively rare in Northland, with only six emergency declarations in the past 50 years, some of which affected only parts of the region.

Meanwhile, Waka Kotahi confirmed all lanes on the Auckland Harbour Bridge were closed due to strong winds at 3.40pm.

Its website said the closure is “until further notice” and motorists were urged to delay their journey or use detours such as the Western Ring Route.

A red heavy rain warning has been issued for Coromandel, Gisborne north of Tolaga Bay, and Auckland, including Great Barrier Island and other islands in the Hauraki Gulf, while strong wind warnings are also in place — including a red one for Coromandel Peninsula, Northland and Auckland.

Speaking at today’s official update, MetService meteorologist Georgina Griffiths said that even with significant wind gusts in Northland already being reported, the weather today was just the start.

“This is the entree. This is not the impact day.”

She said they had not seen pressure this low in 40 years.

“This is a serious event for New Zealand.”

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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