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New Zealand overdue for cyclone

New Zealand has been spared a direct hit from an ex-Tropical Cyclone for 15 years and counting reports

Tropical Cyclones Fergus and Drena caused major damage and flooding in the height of camping season back in the summer of 1996 and 1997 and were shortly following by cyclone Gavin, but that cyclone failed to make a direct hit.

Going further back it was 1988 when Cyclone Bola hit.

While technically these storms are no longer “tropical cyclone” status by the time they reach New Zealand (due to our location south of the tropics) they do still retain cyclone name and status for media and public awareness purposes.

NIWA says cyclones have a higher chance of hitting New Zealand during “neutral” seasons – and not La Nina or El Nino – despite the increased risk of rain making sub-tropical lows during this summer’s La Nina.

While the cyclone didn’t get much press coverage, it was Tropical Cyclone Tasha that brought the flooding to Queensland.  The storm was only briefly a cyclone and was at the lower end of the category 1 status – the weakest out of 5 categories. However the intense flooding shows that even the weakest cyclones can cause catastrophic damage.

When Katrina hit New Orleans it was a Category 3 Hurricane, down from Category 5.   Localised geographical attributes make up a big part on how damaging a cyclone, or tropical storm, can be.

Various computer models are currently showing the south west Pacific becoming more and more active as we head into the “true” cyclone season, which tends to be January to March, when sea waters and daytime temperatures are at their hottest, says

There is no current tropical cyclone threat anywhere around New Zealand or the Coral Sea – however a thunderstorm can turn into a cyclone in just a matter of days under the right conditions.


Andrew on 4/01/2011 8:34am

Hey Guys in that other Article about the Queensland rain coming here etc Someone posted a link which shows Australia and NZ and the Tropics….

It looks like the Tropics have exploded into life………
Some of that weather is drifting towards us….. Quite a bit of it….. No Cyclone yet but boy its getting organised……


Ken Ring on 3/01/2011 9:56pm

Although tropical cyclonic systems are expected to get going soon in the Coral Sea and northern Pacific, they should mainly affect the islands north of us, and down the track in March, the Australian coast. Most of what reaches here should be just swell and wind, great for surfers and wind sports.

Gary on 4/01/2011 2:09pm

That’s not what you said here Ken
“…Ken Ring is tipping his country will feel the impacts of a cyclonic summer more severely than Queensland” and “…a drier than average summer overall for Queensland and the south-east coast”. By “dry” I assume you mean the beer truck won’t be able get through because of the floods.

Ken Ring on 6/01/2011 1:17pm

It’s not what I said, but you were not to know. I often get misquoted.
For instance in my Australian Almanac 2010 on pages 34 and 384 I predicted heaps of rain and flooding for Queensland in December.
e.g. p384 says, for Queensland
“A tropical cyclone may be responsible for heavy to extreme rainfall on Cape York and parts of the North Coast. Other areas of above average rainfall may be the central inland, the southwest and adjacent central and southern inland and pockets on the Central Coast and southeast districts.
21st-25th :rain to the central inland..heavy falls in central and southern inland result in flooding in several rivers..widespread rain far northern tropics.
26th: storms southwest and southern inland.
27th: Storms in northern, central and southern inland.
27th-29th: flooding after heavy rains
28th – 29th: storms western and Southwest districts.
..tropical cyclone first week of January.”

For large tracts of Queensland receiving flooding it is mainly the monsoonal trough rain in the far north around the Upper Carpentaria that fills the Queensland river systems that causes many devastating floods rather than local falls. Many places getting flooded now have still not had that much rain. Emerald, one of the worst affected, only had some 200mm in December. Emerald’s December average is 130mm so they are one example of a place that got someone else’s water flowing over them.

Gary on 11/01/2011 5:29am

That goes beyond a misquote, that’s the complete opposite. But I’m sure your almanac has all possible scenarios covered.

Glenda on 3/01/2011 9:03pm

I remembered just reading this that I have faxes of the synoptic weather maps for these three cyclones in an old file. Also have rainfall records for each and wind speed recored at our house in Auckland at East Coast Bays. Worst for us was Drena with 60knots wind recorded. Only Fergus produced much rain 78ml over 3 days.

WW Forecast Team on 3/01/2011 9:20pm

Wow that’s really interesting that you’ve kept those maps – if you can scan and upload them to our site that would be fantastic!

Philip Duncan says he was in Te Aroha at the time of both cyclones – and Fergus produced gusts of 180km/h in the township. Caused major problems windwise.  Drena then caused all the flooding over the Coromandel Peninsula.

– WW

Glenda on 3/01/2011 9:42pm

Because they came of our fax they are really poor quality could try but don’t think they would come to much. Not to mention they are very faded. Will have a go anyway.

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