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IMAGE: Twin severe cyclones north of New Zealand

Two major tropical cyclones are continuing to intensify north of New Zealand today.

Tropical Cyclone Tomas is expected to hit Fiji today and into Tuesday. Suva may be seriously affected. The huge storm is expected to reach Category 4 status with sustained winds at 200km/h and gusts to 230km/h.

Meanwhile Intense Tropical Cyclone Ului is now a Category 5 cyclone with sustained winds expected to reach an incredible 290km/h with gusts to 350km/h – three and a half times our road speed limit.

Double trouble in the South Pacific – Ului (to the left) and Tomas (to the right).  The northern half of New Zealand can be seen centre bottom.  Image / MTSAT, NOAA

The severe tropical cyclone is currently brushing the Solomon Islands and is heading into the open waters of the Coral Sea. The warm waters favour yet even more intensification possibly creating the strongest cyclone in our part of the world for many years.

Computer models have, on Sunday afternoon, now started to show signs that Ului may approach northern New Zealand next Sunday or Monday however stresses that is too early to have any solid forecasts.

Head weather analyst Philip Duncan says both cyclones are cause for serious concern across the South Pacific and have the potential for loss of life in Fiji, the Solomons and potentially north eastern Australia and New Caledonia.

Mr Duncan says phenomenal seas are likely in the Coral Sea as the air pressure of Ului dropped to just 930hPa overnight and hurricane force winds strengthen further. “A major storm in New Zealand would see the air pressure around 975 to 980 hectopascals (hPa), so to see the air pressure so low, at 930hPa, gives you an idea as to just how extremely dangerous this storm is”. will have extensive coverage of both cyclones across the week.


Guest on 14/03/2013 7:14am

Hi, I’m flying to New Zealand on Saturday 16th March, arriving midnight. How will the pilots of the plane plot their route for this one and will it be safe to fly??

Thanks Mat.

Kath on 15/03/2010 9:49am


I’m cruising to New Caledonia on Saturday, leaving Sydney with P&O. What are the chances of us sailing into horrific weather. We are all quite worried.

WW Forecast Team on 15/03/2010 10:26am

It’s certainly unfortauntely timing… it’s possible the sailing may be delayed by a day or so until the storm passes.  You’d have to check with P&O but the storm is likely to be in that area on that day.

– WeatherWatch

Sandra on 14/03/2010 10:41pm

The more I read the more scared I become. I’ve convinced myself that both cyclones are going to hit Auckland! Over summer I re-read a couple of great books ‘Tracy’ and ‘Isaac’s Storm’. I have a couple of questions. I know it’s too early to say if either will have an impact on New Zealand but you say Ului may affect northern NZ. Does this mean it could potentially stay a Category Five cyclone if it hit here? And secondly, if both are moving in opposite directions does this mean Ului is tracking to the south-west and Tomas to the south-east? I thought cyclones travel in the same direction? I guess time will tell, but I am really nervous..

WW Forecast Team on 14/03/2010 10:48pm

Hi Sandra,

No the chances of a storm with a Category 5 status hitting New Zealand is probably almost impossible as we’re just in the wrong position.  We’re too far south for tropical cyclones and too far north for the deep lows that circle Antarctica.  Even the massive Wahine storm didn’t produce winds like Tomas (apart from Wellington which had gusts to 275km/h but that was due to the geography of the land and not a direct result of the central air pressure of the low).

Tomas is going to turn southerly (currently moving SW) then south east and out into the open waters far away from NZ.  Most we will get may be some bigger seas in the far east coast.

Ului will weaken as it heads down towards New Zealand.  We sometimes receive storms (which are no longer cyclones this far south) which have the wind speeds of Cat 2 or 3 cyclones – one brushed Northland in July 2008.

Too early to know what strength Ului will be when it gets here (and thats IF it gets here…still over a week away) but it wont be as intense as it is now.

Cyclones usually tend to travel westwards (in both hemispheres) but if they track far enough south (or north in northern hemisphere) then they usually turn and move eastwards (south east in southern hem, north east in northern hem).

Don’t be nervous…just keep up to date with and if there’s any need to be concerned we’ll alert you in plenty of time – but at this stage there is no real threat to NZ.

Philip Duncan

Laura Noblejas on 14/03/2010 10:07pm

Hey Phil, just here in Nadi town, preparations are underway for the cyclone. Shops are clearing goods off the floor and some shops have emptied out completely. Westpac and ANZ didn’t even open today and put bulletins out on the radio for staff and customers to stay away today. Just stopped into an internet cafe to check the latest weather reports. You can call me on my Fiji cell which is in my out of office reply if you want. Hope you are well. Lala.

WW Forecast Team on 14/03/2010 10:11pm

Might do that tonight or tomorrow morning  –  good to have an eyewitness account!

Let us know what conditions are like later.

Go have a drink at the bar 🙂


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