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Cyclone Ula – a serious storm, but no serious threat to NZ

Updated Tues AM — Tropical Cyclone Ula is now tracking towards northern New Zealand, but growing high pressure over the country will help guide Ula just out to our east.  Still a serious storm – but not posing a serious threat to most New Zealanders.

While the storm is expected to gradually weaken as it leaves the tropics and heads south today, it will still bring some rain to the upper North Island. says about 90% of the rain will fall out at sea, with some heavy falls possible around Great Barrier Island and surrounding marine areas.  Northland, Auckland, Coromandel Peninsula, and Bay of Plenty may all see some rain or showers today – but totals won’t be much for those who need it.  Good news for those still on holiday though!

Click to animate latest animated colourised sat map of Ula

Strong winds will remain well offshore – but may affect boaties who are further out at sea.

Campers shouldn’t worry too much either – although take note today of your surroundings and whether or not bigger waves and heavy rain could be an issue to your safety should conditions deteriorate.  But the computer models are showing the centre of the storm weakening and pulling well away to the south east before NZ – so remaining offshore t our east coast.  Hopefully the sun may even stay shining for others further south.

Despite low risk of severe weather, there are still some risks to beachgoers and boaties…
Cyclones are powerful and therefore they can surprise us a little sometimes, so everyone in the upper North Island should be monitoring warnings and watches issued by MetService – plus the latest news and forecasts from

As with any cyclone there’s always the chance it may ‘wobble’ a little in its path, and that could mean some chance it moves a little closer to land – but most models show the damaging winds well offshore.

At this stage Ula doesn’t pose much threat to land.’s main concern is for those in the water – with occasional larger waves and stronger rips and currents possibly moving in.  “The weather can be beautiful at the beach, but dangerous rips, currents and random large waves can make some beaches unsafe, just for a day or two, so just take a little extra care” says head weather analyst Philip Duncan.  

This particular storm looks far enough offshore to not cause too many headaches – but eastern beaches run some risk of stronger currents and a few larger waves.

Mr Duncan says numerous offshore ex-cyclones in recent years – that have barely affected land – have caused deaths or near deaths in our eastern beaches due to currents or sudden random big waves.  

Image – Latest map from JTWC showing Ula’s final track. Issued Tuesday AM.

Take a look at the rain maps we have and it will show where the low will track, based on’s very latest modelling.



Guest on 10/01/2016 10:55pm

Hi Guys


I can see a large Cyclone forming around Samoa and moving into French Polynesia around the 17th, it looks big and intense, have there been any concerns for Tahitiand the Cooks? Has it been named yet? That seems pretty far east to be forming is that normal?

WW Forecast Team on 11/01/2016 3:29pm

Hi there – in an El Nino summer we tend to find more cyclones forming east of the International Date Line, so yes quite normal.  This second one may well grow and head westwards into some of the islands – it may also head towards East Cape of NZ (but the modelling shows it failing to reach NZ).  One to watch for the islands next week maybe.



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