SYDNEY (Reuters) - New Zealand’s civil defense authorities lifted severe weather warnings on Friday after tropical Cyclone Cook moved off the country’s South Island, but also cautioned that the effects of the storm would still be felt in some areas.
Cyclone Cook, the second big storm to hit New Zealand in a week, had earlier killed one person in New Caledonia before lashing parts of New Zealand, with the north and east the hardest hit.
“All heavy rain warnings and severe gale warnings associated with the Cyclone have now been lifted,” New Zealand’s official Metservice said in a statement.
“However, there are a few South Island areas that may experience conditions close to warning criteria today,” it said.
Authorities evacuated seaside areas and closed more than 100 schools on Thursday as the meteorological service warned of floods, landslides and gale-force winds reaching speeds of 150 km per hour (95 mph).
At the Lost Spring Spa at Whitianga on the Coromandel Peninsula, about two hours’ drive from New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, receptionist Terri Lipanovic said residents had prepared for the worst.
“It was quite scary. We were all ready to evacuate but it seemed that a westerly wind came up and blew it off course,” Lipanovic said.
Among the hardest-hit areas were Northland, the Bay of Plenty, and Hawkes Bay, where thousands were left without power at the height of the storm.
Cyclone Cook’s heavy rains followed on from flooding caused by ex-tropical Cyclone Debbie, which hit New Zealand last week after causing widespread damage on Australia’s northeast coast.
Reporting by Peter Gosnell; Editing by Paul Tait