Tropical Cyclone Jasmine continues her slow meandering journey around the South Pacific islands and today she is moving into Tonga.
The cyclone is currently a Category 1 tropical storm – the lowest on the scale but still easily capable of causing serious flooding and widespread wind damage. At her peak she was a Category 4 storm when passing 1300kms north of New Zealand last week. The highest category is 5, like Cyclone Yasi in the summer of 2010 which hit half way between Cairns and Townsville, thankfully in a fairly remote part of Queensland.
Over the weekend Jasmine came within 800 to 1000kms of New Zealand – but a high in the Tasman not only stopped her southerly track towards us, but started to push her eastwards towards Tonga.
Despite Jasmine’s close proximity to Tonga’s main island the region may avoid a direct hit. Today Jasmine has stopped moving north east towards Tonga and is starting to turn 180 degrees – to back track. Latest analysis from the Fiji Met Service shows Jasmine currently heading north-north-west at just 9km/h – or a little over walking speed.
In other words, the storm has stalled just to the west of Tonga and is now starting to curve back where she came from.
Over the next couple of days the cyclone will start to turn back on itself, heading westwards then turning more south west pointing towards New Zealand.
But the cyclone’s days are numbered. Unfavourable conditions means it will eventually become just a tropical low then most models show it dropping south 1000 to 2000kms east of New Zealand and having no real direct impact on our weather at all.
It is possible that Jasmine’s remnants could get caught up in an easterly flow that may fuel more cloud and humidity over northern New Zealand, but the risk is considered fairly low at this stage.
Latest track and predicted track for Cyclone Jasmine – courtesy of Fiji Met Service