Tonga: It doesn't get much worse than this, Cyclone Gita likely to make direct hit (+6 Maps)

The latest forecast for Tonga is not something you want to see - a forecast for already Category 4 Severe Cyclone Gita to reach Category 5 status (the highest on the scale) in the Tonga area and likely make a direct hit over the top of Tonga and the capital Nuku'alofa on the main island Tongatapu tonight and early Tuesday.

Severe Cyclone Gita to track over southern Tonga, later Norfolk Island & NZ area (+8 Maps)

Severe Tropical Cyclone Gita is a Category 3 storm as it starts to curve towards southern Tonga today and Monday. The powerful storm is likely to become a Category 4 cyclone as it turns and tracks westwards over the next 24 to 48 hours.

Tropical Cyclone Gita now a 'Severe' Cat 3 storm, Cat 4 expected (+6 Maps)

UPDATED 10:20pm --- Gita is now a 'Severe' Category 3 Tropical Cyclone and is forecast to grow into a Category 4 storm as it churns around a number of South Pacific islands to the north east of New Zealand.

The cyclone has caused considerable damage to Samoa where a 'state of disaster' has been declared, according to Radio New Zealand Pacific.

Today is the day to vote - #VolcanoCup fever takes hold in New Zealand!

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Do you find volcanoes fascinating? GeoNet certainly does. Right now there's a whole lot of scientists, teachers and students talking about volcanoes on Twitter and voting for their favorites - you can join in and vote for yours too!

But you must hurry - the vote needs to be in today to count!  

Weather Video: Tropical Cyclone heading towards NZ

A tropical cyclone north west of New Zealand is going to transition out of tropical cyclone status and then deepen into a new system as it moves into the New Zealand area late Wednesday and across Thursday, most likely making landfall in the South Island - a rare event but does sometimes happen there.

Government to take a further 6 months to make decision on already year long delayed weather review

Updated: There's more frustrating news about the New Zealand Government's response to the open weather data review and also the MetService/NIWA double up.

Six large California wildfires have scorched 160,000 acres; 5700 firefighters working

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Wildfires roared across Southern California for a fifth day on Friday, with new blazes prompting more evacuations as neighborhoods in San Diego County went up in flames.

California fires: 'Firefighters taking a beating' as Santa Ana winds rage

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The four major wildfires wreaking devastation across Southern California are wearing on the firefighters and military personnel who have been laboring nonstop to douse the blazes, one of which is now the size of Denver.

Weather Video: Current Sea surface temps around NZ stand out on world map

We kick off the first full week of December under more high pressure and mostly dry weather but this week has a few more twists than last week.

We still see a few daytime downpours, again mainly around Central Plateau but a few also possible around Central Otago.

Some farmers are telling that parts of NZ now in a 'Green Drought'

SPECIAL REPORT --- Farmers in Taranaki and Southland - and a handful of other places around New Zealand - are telling one thing right now: "We're in a green drought".