Cyclone Lusi may make landfall over Auckland (+6 maps)
UPDATED 5:39pm Tuesday --- Tropical Cyclone Lusi has been upgraded to a Category 2 cyclone this afternoon near Vanuatu with the Fiji Met Service predicting the storm will intensfy rapidly into a Cat3 storm.
The central air pressure is currently 985hPa and is expected to drop into the 960s range before reaching New Zealand.
Winds are currently averaging around 90km/h at the centre.
Overnight the computer models shifted the predicted path of Lusi closer towards New Zealand with a direct hit to the upper North Island looking increasingly likely for Saturday night.
Current data now suggests the centre of the storm may pass over our largest city, Auckland, overnight Saturday and into Sunday morning - this could also help fuel damaging winds to the eastern Waikato and Coromandel Peninsula, along with Northland and Auckland.
"Lusi looks like it could be a fairly intense storm when it reaches New Zealand this weekend. The most severe weather will be wrapped around the centre when it rolls in but many North Islanders can expect a windy and wet weekend" says head weather analyst Philip Duncan.
Rain or showers, along with brisk and strengthening easterlies, will push southwards across much of, if not the entire, North Island.
The exact path of the centre of Lusi is still unknown at this stage for New Zealand but the centre looks likely to cross somewhere around Auckland then will unwind over the North Island on Sunday - with rain easing in the north on Sunday morning.
If the low makes landfall in Auckland it could also lead to coastal storm surge flooding in vlunerable places.
Our updates will continue with multiple daily updates from now until at least Sunday PM.
MAPS as of Tuesday PM
Above/Below / JTWC
Above / Saturday morning / ECMWF
Below / Saturday morning / MetOcean
Below / Latest Pacific Islands tracking map for Lusi, courtesy of Fiji Met