White Island death toll at 5, with 8 still missing + latest forecast

UPDATED 8:10am --- The death toll at White Island / Whakaari in New Zealand's Bay of Plenty region remains at five following Mondy's eruption but more remain missing. 

Clearer skies, cooler air returns to NZ - drier trends return too (+8 Maps)

A cold front on Sunday delivered deluges across the North Island, helped clear smokey skies up and ushered the sub-tropical air away bringing a refreshing change.

Aussie smoke impacts NZ's air quality - clearer air pushing through Sunday (+5 Maps)

More smoke and dust from Australia continues to drift over New Zealand today but a change on Sunday may improve air quality levels around the eastern Tasman Sea / NZ area.

For Saturday the smoke and higher air pollution has slid down to central NZ (upper South Island lower North Island).

VIDEO: Smoke from Australia, a West Coast deluge and a Monday cool change

Our video this weekend is packed full of info as we track the raging Australian bush-fires and the huge smoke plume being generated across the Tasman Sea and parts of New Zealand.

We’re tracking the West Coast deluge as another 300mm+ is forecast for some areas with spillover into Lake Wanaka which is already flooding.

Big doesn't always mean bad for everyone as Southern Ocean storm forms (+3 Maps)

UPDATED 7:51am Monday --- A huge area of low pressure is forming in the Southern Ocean creating a large storm which will span thousands of kilometres in diameter and brush New Zealand and south eastern Australia. It will affect our weather for about seven full days.

The storm itself won't directly cross NZ, but it's so large in size it can't help but swipe us.

Australia's smokey haze to continue lingering across NZ (+InfoGraphics)

As dozens of Australian fires continue to burn, some out of control, the air pressure set up over the Tasman Sea means New Zealand's skies continue to be polluted.

VIDEO: Cyclone Rita near Vanuatu, plus a Southern Ocean storm for NZ next week is tracking two storm systems, one right now north of NZ near Vanuatu (Cyclone Rita) and the other is a developing storm in the Southern Ocean for next week.

The storm next week will likely bring gales, heavy rain and big seas around parts of New Zealand as a low at least three times the size of Australia gets stuck south of us.

VIDEO: Cyclone Rita forms near Vanuatu but most of NZ hotter & drier than normal

The first tropical cyclone of the South Pacific Cyclone Season has formed near Vanuatu, we have the latest tracking.

In NZ we take a closer look at the extended hot and dry spell continuing in many regions. For some the entire week ahead will be dry and mostly sunny and will feel more like summer.

Cyclone Rita forms near Vanuatu, high pressure should block it from NZ (+2 Maps)

The first tropical cyclone of 2019-2020 season has formed just east of Vanuatu and will peak in strength over the next 24 hours before weakening.

For now Cyclone Rita isn't forecast to be a major headache, likely drifting south for a day then curving westwards into Vanuatu - but by then it may have already lost its tropical cyclone title and be just a tropical rainmaker.

WeatherWatch partners with IBM for Climate forecasting in 2020 will soon be providing more regular commentary on seasonal and monthly forecasting as climate news dominates NZ's headlines.