UPDATED: Cyclone Winston has weakened a little further overnight and remains a severe cyclone but is now Category 3.
The air pressure is 960hPa with sustained winds of 160km/h gusting 200km/h.
Winston, which has been tracking Westwards since Friday, last night stopped that westerly movement and begun tracking south. As of Tuesday morning Cat 3 Severe Cyclone Winston was tracking south at just 6km/h.
Cyclone Winston remains out at sea away from land, such as New Caledonia, Fiji and Vanuatu. In fact Winston currently lies in a similar position to over a week ago.
Winston’s path will again drop south towards the New Zealand area but most models now pick Winston may actually try to head towards Australia before it tries, for a third attempt, to reach New Zealand.
This morning the latest modelling out of both Europe and the US suggests Winston will track into the central Tasman Sea this weekend – and by next week, possibly Tuesday, may make a direct track across the North Island, impacting some in the South Island too.
If Winston does hit the North Island directly it will not be as a tropical cyclone, nor would it be on a storm scale anywhere close to what Fiji had. However, any ex-cyclone contains a lot of tropical energy – so rain or wind warnings in New Zealand early next week are possible. Those away from the centre will continue to have normal late Feb/early March weather.
Our confidence of a direct hit remains moderate, at about 60% today. The date that this future ex-cyclone may arrive here is changeable. Some models were picking this Sunday, but most seem to be aligning with next week. Basically Sunday to Tuesday is the main window at this stage.
The same blocking nature of a large high east of New Zealand is responsible for guiding Cyclone Winston towards Australia and the central Tasman Sea rather than continuing it’s southwards track this week directly towards the upper North Island. It’s possible this high may continue to block Winston this weekend too – so we need to focus on that as much as the low itself.
If Winston does track into the Tasman Sea this weekend it could mean humid, showery, conditions spread into some parts of the North Island with rain.
Current forecast map by Fiji Met
Latest thinking of Winston’s future track via the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Hawaii
– Current Rain Map for this coming Tuesday (one week from today) GFS/MetOcean