Relief on Norfolk Island as tropical cyclone passes over

Photo: Australian Bureau of Meteorology

Norfolk Island appears to have avoided the worst as Cyclone Gabrielle passed over it at the weekend.

The category 2 storm passed over the island on Saturday night local time on its way to New Zealand, but the Australian Bureau of Meteorology says the island has missed the strongest winds from the cyclone.

Winds have cut power, brought down trees and blocked roads on Norfolk Island, which is halfway between New Zealand and Australia, but it appears to have been spared the worst.

However, the Bureau said gale-force winds were likely to return on Sunday.

On Saturday, Norfolk Island’s emergency management issued a red alert, requiring businesses to close and for everyone to shelter inside.

The ABC reports Norfolk Island’s emergency controller George Plant saying gale-force winds and heavy rain started to ramp up around the island on Saturday morning.

“We’re happy that it’s been downgraded to a category two again, but still, with 155km an hour winds, we’re expecting some sort of damage,” he said.

Norfolk Island resident Kate Lemerle said winds rapidly intensified early on Saturday.

“The island has never had a cyclone of this magnitude and none of our houses have been built to cyclone standards,” she told the ABC.

“So it is unknown whether the roof will blow off or whether I will come out the other side completely intact.”