UPDATED 8:05am — Reports of significant damage to some homes, powerlines and trees are starting to filter in from South Taranaki and Wanganui this morning following the passing of the weather bomb’s centre earlier this morning.
The storm – which has the very worst of the winds wrapped tightly around the centre – is now moving into the rest of the lower North Island reports WeatherWatch.co.nz.
Newstalk ZB and WeatherWatch.co.nz are both receiving reports of roofs lost, trees down and dozens of power cuts – with power problems as far north as Coromandel Peninsula and western Bay of Plenty.
For Aucklanders the winds have been gusty but not as bad as predicted. This is simply due to the strongest winds being more tightly wrapped around the centre of the low – while that means good news for Aucklanders, it means worse news for central New Zealand which will face a stormy several hours ahead.
The storm – which was dubbed a “Weather Bomb” by WeatherWatch.co.nz on Thursday – has seen the air pressure fall to very low levels. A weather bomb is jargon based on a technical weather term “bombogenesis” which is when a low rapidly forms and deepens over 24 hPa in 24 hours.
hPa stands for Hectopascal, the unit for measuring airpressure. It’s also known as millibars.
The blue line indicates the most likely track of the low (the very centre of it).
The red zone indicates the highest risk for Severe Gales (120km/h to 150km/h)
The yellow zone indicates the risk zone for Gales (60km/h to 120km/h)
WeatherWatch.co.nz Levin reader Andrew Blair, which will be on the edge of the centre, or “eye”, of the storm right now, says in the past few minutes the airpressure has started falling like a stone. “978.2 hPa Falling very rapidly -2.4 hPa/hr Strong wind and heavy rain”
Normal air pressure from most lows that cross New Zealand usually lie in the 990 to 1000 hPa range.
And it’s clear the calm centre is tracking around South Taranaki, Wanganui and Manawatu. A number of reports from our readers are wondering “where the storm even is” – as it quietly passes above them.
But just a small distance south of the centre and it’s another story. “
The storm is travelling at an incredible speed. Latest WeatherWatch.co.nz projections show the centre of the storm is likely speeding up and will be travelling at around 100km/h later today. In comparison, most tropical cyclones travel at around 10 to 40km/h. In a 12 hour period from 7am this morning to 7pm tonight it is likely to travel 1200kms to the south east – taking it towards the Southern Ocean.
Gales have also just reached Auckland City in the past hour. Auckland is expected to be on the edge of the Severe Gale belt today according to WeatherWatch.co.nz – with the worst of the winds moving in between now and mid afternoon in the form of sudden gusts. A severe weather warning is in force for the city since yesterday evening from MetService predicting 120km/h gusts.
WeatherWatch.co.nz said Friday morning that some parts of the city would record gusts to 120km/h in some exposed parts of the city, while more sheltered areas would see gusts to 80km/h – and this does seem to be the case.
The weather news authority also predicted the Manukau Heads might see gusts to 150km/h. An unconfirmed report overnight says winds have been gusting to 135km/h on the hilly farmland west of Auckland Airport – a normal wind tunnel for westerlies. It’s expected to rise even higher this morning on the Manukau Heads.
Gusts at Auckland Airport – and in Auckland city – are reaching 70km/h at the moment with winds still building.
The winds will peak late morning or early afternoon for Auckland.
But even stronger winds lie further south. Wellington has a gale southerly at 70km/h gusting to 120km/h – with the worst of the weather yet to arrive there.
Meanwhile the “eye” of the storm has passed near Taranaki and is moving into Manawatu now.
Late last night WeatherWatch.co.nz received the first reports of wind from Taranaki- and in the past hour we’ve been told conditions have eased, as the centre of the storm (where winds are light and there is no rain) passed by.
In latest rain radar images the eye of the storm – or the ‘centre’ as it’s more usually known – can be very clearly seen around Wanganui and is heading east quickly towards Bulls, Palmerston North and then over into Wairarapa/Hawkes Bay.
Residents will most likely notice winds easing and rains easing in these regions.
But head weather analyst Philip Duncan says people need to realise the winds will come back, possibly stronger, from a more southerly direction later this morning.
“So we have a belt of severe gales that stretches for 300kms away from the centre of the low – north and south. This takes those winds down over the upper South Island and as far north as Auckland, although Auckland is right on the edge of it. As the low tracks east of Wairarapa, which it will do mid-morning, it will then blast a very strong southerly flow across the North Island and upper South Island”.
Mr Duncan says for many North Islanders the stormy weather has only just begun – or is yet to.
“As we said yesterday this storm would arrive quite suddenly – that certainly seems to be the case this morning”.
“The bulk of the energy from this storm lies between Nelson and Marlborough in the South Island and Waikato and Bay of Plenty in the North Island – with Auckland right on the edge”.
WeatherWatch.co.nz says due to the national topography not all main centres – which traditionally are built in more sheltered locations – will be hit, but that damaging gales would still hit most North Island regions today, especially in more exposed places like western, southern and eastern coastlines and hilltops south of Auckland.
WeatherWatch.co.nz has been providing updates all night to our readers and Facebook followers – we will be continuing all day too, so please keep feeding in your latest storm reports and any photos if you can safely take them.
“Some New Zealanders may be quite surprised as to how fast this storm moves by today, especially based on the heavy media and weather forecast coverage on Friday. However this is an extreme storm that is fairly small in size and moving very quickly through the lower North Island” says Mr Duncan. “It has the potential to be fell trees, lift roofts, blow vehivles off road and cut power. It’s a potent, fast moving, storm” says Mr Duncan.
on 2/03/2012 11:52pm
Has been very quiet in Whangarei, day started out sunny & calm but heavy showers moved in mid morning & wind picked up.
Very fortunate about that but feel for all those affected.
on 2/03/2012 10:14pm
Pretty cloudy but blue skies in Taupo at 11.10am, she’s pretty windy but no damage from what I’ve seen/heard. Just disapointment from all the ironmen and supporters, way to ruin an amazing day for Taupo!
on 2/03/2012 8:44pm
Right now @ 9.42am….we must be in or nearing the eye of this weather bomb as there is not a breath of wind no trees are moving what soever… will see what happens in a few hours time…… father in law would be interested in this for sure!!
on 2/03/2012 8:33pm
Tauranga, blustery around our home which is set amongst other houses, sunny, with blue sky and clumps of heavy cloud racing over head.
We going to go down to the beach and see what it is like down there later. Saw quite a flock of seagulls over our house getting blowen about, so they have decided land is the better place to be today.
Oop, belt of rain just started.
on 2/03/2012 8:32pm
not anything out of the ordinary wind-wise here. It may have been more around the Pirongia side? Makes a big difference. Just a gentle breeze now although a tree over the road has loast a fairly big branch, but have had regular stuff here over the years that has blown over fences and shifted heavy deck furniture and it wasn’t that severe……yet, perhaps…or it seems to be tracking a bit further south than predicted
on 2/03/2012 7:32pm
The weather is starting to pick up here now. Martinborough fair has been cancelled 🙁 At 0830 we have had 50mls of rain so far. Reports of trees and power lines down already!
on 2/03/2012 7:20pm
power is out masterton trees are down and very strong winds here rite now
on 2/03/2012 7:18pm
Whakatane has had bugger all rain over night, a little bit of wind nothing significant. This morning the sun is out, it is hard to believe there is supposed to be a weather bomb
on 2/03/2012 7:17pm
The sky is blue in hamilton , I can hear the wind howling , or some times I think its the traffic pretending to be the wind howling , last night and early mornin it was pissing down with rain and heavily windy , but right now out of curiosity I question this tropical depression – still early days …