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High risk for Cyclone development north of NZ

Weather models used by are now predicting what looks to be a tropical cyclone in the coming days north east of New Zealand – and it may affect us in the first half of next week.

A low has formed, called Tropical Depression 13F, and forecasters have high confidence that this will become Tropical Cyclone Bune and the Fiji Meteorological Service agrees, saying they have “moderate to high” confidence of cyclone development within 48 hours.

Despite the low being north east of New Zealand it is tracking south west towards us and some long range models show it deepening rapidly as it moves towards us on Monday and Tuesday, possibly bringing strong winds to East Cape, Gisborne, eastern Bay of Plenty and Hawkes Bay.   Going by the current maps heavy rain would likely remain mostly offshore.

Last month ex-tropical cyclone Atu passed east of New Zealand on the same week as the Christchurch earthquake.  The ex-cyclone was well offshore but forecasters warned the public to stay away from east coast beaches due to dangerous rips.  That Friday 11 students were rescued from a dangerous rip south of Napier lucky to be alive.

“Traditionally in New Zealand the news headlines tend to be around cyclones hitting us – but in reality the offshore ones can pose the same risk to life due to dangerous rips and waves” says head weather analyst Philip Duncan.  “These storms don’t need to affect our weather to make our beaches deadly”.

In America hurricanes that are sometimes over 1000kms off the coastline can make headline news as forecasters warn of dangerous seas in an effort to avoid drownings.

“This likely developing cyclone may well follow Atu’s path and pass to the east of New Zealand, with some models picking it may track even closer to shore.  it could bring dangerous seas for much of next week along the east coast of the North Island”.

Mr Duncan says more model updates are needed to create a more specific forecast.  “In the next 48 hours we will have a much clearer idea as to where this potential storm will track, how intense it is likely to be and what affect it will have on the North Island”.


– Image — Possible set up for midnight Tuesday next week / ECMWF


westcoast on 24/03/2011 2:06am

and then the NZhearld has headling of may hit NZ
but then quotes you Phillip:
could intensify before hitting New Zealand on Monday and Tuesday.

which makes it sound like it will hit NZ
when it still also could miss us completly (depends on timing and location with the incoming tasman trough )

WW Forecast Team on 24/03/2011 2:16am

I’ll mention if to their newsroom.  I don’t have any control over news stories in the media, but I can certainly let them know if press releases are taken out of context.  We’ve said any cyclone is likely to move to the east of NZ and there is still no certainty that it will even bring severe weather.  Rough surf/rips is still our main focus. 

Thanks for the heads up on the news articles.  It’s a gradual education process with many in the media – keeping in mind they’ve never had cyclone news stories from NZ unless a storm is on top of us basically.  We’ve managed to make headway in phasing out "mini tornado", so we’re getting there!

– Phil

EDIT:  This is a copy of the media release we just sent out to news rooms across NZ:

"Hi all – please note that cyclone 19P is not expected to make landfall in NZ (so not a direct "hit").

It is likely to be offshore to the east – anywhere between 200 and 800kms. 200kms is close enough to bring severe weather, 800kms is not.

Dangerous surf/rips are still highly likely on some eastern beaches of the North Island next week.

We are likely to have another update this evening once Fiji Met names the storm.".

westcoast on 24/03/2011 1:52am

One problem Phillip with the media:

they have obvioulsy seen your news item here
but cherry picked it
and stated a TC has formed

problem is, its not yet at a strength to be called a tropical cyclone, its only a tropical depression….

WW Forecast Team on 24/03/2011 1:59am

Many news rooms in the media go off the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre – I was called by a newsroom about their declaration of a Tropical Cyclone (named 19P) this morning.  Clearly they aren’t the official source for this storm but there are always various organisations around the world that claim cyclones have formed earlier/later than the local govt ones – especially if their updates are only every 12 hours.

– Phil

westcoast on 23/03/2011 9:20pm

Latest ECMWF run has it a bit closer now, east Cape/Gisborne affected, so one to watch allright

WW Forecast Team on 23/03/2011 10:06pm

Yes it’s looking like it could bring a spell of severe weather now and not just rough seas.  As you know it’s still too early…but the models have strengthened every day this week.

Philip Duncan

Guest on 23/03/2011 7:30pm

There are lots of good weather models available for comparison with the one shown here. A heads up is great, but we all need to look at the available data, not a single source. A TC is forming, its track is not clear but most models show a very wide pass to the east. Try MetView, US Navy models, MetService models etc – when they all agree on a track, our risk is higher, but the variables are still not fully understood – hence the variety of models and predictions!

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