Trees Snapped in Half as Gabrielle Vents Fury Across NZ

‘It was like the loudest gunshots you’ve ever heard’.

Mon 20 Feb 23


The sound of trees snapping “was like the loudest gunshots you’ve ever heard” as Cyclone Gabrielle ripped through forests on New Zealand’s central North Island on February 16.

Kasey Smith, who lives next door to the forest, witnessed the cyclone tearing through the trees.

“It was crazy. They were 15–30-year-old pines just snapping. Like the loudest gunshots you’ve ever heard. It sounded like fireworks being let off and massive bangs, one after another. The sound of the wind was deafening.”

Gabrielle cut a swathe through forests in Tūrangi.

“The extent of the damage was devastating, Smith said.

“We couldn’t believe when the morning came and the whole forest was wiped out except one row along the fence line. It was like a match box had been thrown and all the matches fell out with the tops of trees scattered. The smell of the pine was incredible.”

Residents and pets in Motuoapa, northeast of Tūrangi, endured a scary night of cracking trees.

John Mack said it sounded like a train as the wind cut a swathe through the forest. “It was more like a tornado than a cyclone the way it just cut through the trees,” he said.

Cyclone Gabrielle ripped through trees and forests in the Taupō region and recovery is under way.

Mike Fox, chief executive of The Lines Company, said damage to the line servicing the area was substantial. At least 900 residents in Motuoapa, Motutere and some Tūrangi areas had been affected.

“There is significant damage to our network due to forestry damage … we are looking to restore power as safely and as quickly as we can.”

Generators are in hot demand across the North Island as the cyclone left a trail of destruction across Aotearoa leaving many residents without power.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has warned New Zealand to expect death toll from Cyclone Gabrielle to go beyond six as rescue and recovery efforts from the massive storm continue.

In the wake of the cyclone, an earthquake struck near Wellington, as the country grapples with widespread landslides and flooding.

In the wake of the cyclone, an earthquake hit just hours after authorities announced that  five people, including a child, had died in the aftermath of the cyclone, described as the country’s “most destructive weather event in decades”.

The magnitude-6.1 quake struck near Wellington at 8 pm on February 15.

(With extracts from Stuff NZ and ABC News)


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