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Severe Cyclone Donna now Category 5, breaking historical global records

Severe Cyclone Donna, which and CNN reported Monday morning had reached Category 5 status, has Monday night finally been “officially” (Government endorsed) confirmed by the Fiji Metservice and NZ MetService.

Winds are sustained at 215km/h and gusting 260km/h, making Donna the strongest ever May cyclone recorded in the entire Southern Hemisphere.

CNN’s Severe Weather Team exclusively broke the news to early Monday morning ( is a CNN affiliate). The NZ MetService tweeted just moments later that Donna was only a Cat 4 storm and told media it wasn’t expected to go above this.

Official updates out of the Fiji MetService did not capture Monday morning’s spike with their updates limited to four set times across the day (once every 6 hours) – compared to the more frequent updates out of the US and CNN.

Donna is still likely to weaken towards New Caledonia in the next 36 hours or so but this latest update will be much more concerning for those in Noumea and eastern New Caledonia.

While Fiji is the “official” (which only means “Government”) forecaster for this particular tropical storm we believe other global resources are more accurate – especially US resources like NASA, which uses and shares their data with New Zealanders untouched.

In New Zealand 100% tax owned Crown Research Institute NIWA has its own modelling for tropical storms and their impact on New Zealand – but incredibly – due to NIWA’s own commercial aspirations they refuse to share this data with the private forecasting sector or you the public who fund and own them. NIWA sells this data to corporations and does not provide any open access to the NZ tax payers who 100% own them. This is why relies on the more accurate US data sets for New Zealand – we don’t want to wait to give you updates CNN can give us half a day earlier.

*View weather coverage on Cyclone Donna via CNN on SKY-TV in New Zealand (Channel 087) or by visiting 



– / CNN


Guest on 8/05/2017 9:24am

Surely the difference in categories can also be attributed to 1 minute vs 10 minute winds. There is a conversion between the two but it’s not perfect. CNN as a US company will be using 1 minute winds, which will put the system at a category 5 before the 10 minute winds will put it at Category 5.
Anyway, without observations near the centre, the wind speeds are estimated using empirical satellite methods, which are not precise in themselves.

Also you persist in this “OFFICIAL means “only government”” line. It doesn’t. Official means “as designated by the WMO”.

WW Forecast Team on 8/05/2017 9:38am

Hi Anonymous

The WMO (which is the United Nations!) has also called out MetService for going the wrong way with open data (which you don’t quote) – and when we asked the WMO for support on this topic they said “We don’t interfere in domestic politics”. We’ll let our loyal readers work out if the WMO/UN endorsed set up is really truly looking after the interests of the public or just focused on supporting their friends in Government circles – and in NZ they are commercially focused not public focused. Some WMO sources are great (USA, Australia for example). You may well work for MetService so who knows – you’re an anonymous person who we have gone out of way to respond to.

CNN doesn’t quote US standards for New Zealand – they are smarter than that – you’re confusing CNN USA with CNN International. We use CNN International who have International standards and understand every region is different. As we told you before, “Official” only means “Government endorsed” (WMO means it is the UN which is made only of “Governments”). If you are so clearly against the private sector and only want “official Government” agencies to give you the weather then we suggest you leave our website and try NIWA and MetService which your taxes fund – we may be too honest for your liking by the seems of it!!

Have a happy night.


Philip Duncan.

Guest on 8/05/2017 10:26am

WMO is a big fan of the “sole official voice” idea, which generally makes sense. You can guarantee the sole official voice has sound science and experience behind it. I find it hard to trust CNN because they are not transparent enough. Where did they get their Category 5 status from? Why don’t they publish their Dvorak analysis? Fiji met publish their Dvorak analyses and all the reasoning behind it (as do JTWC). But it’s all subjective, and not perfect. If CNN withhold that data, then I am just going to believe that they are seeking bombast rather than accuracy.
I am not at all opposed to the private sector; I rely on it quite a lot (for example, very advanced companies like weatherbell – in some respects – and WSI, WDT and so on).
My issue with Weatherwatch is that you don’t seem to employ any meteorologists, which means you can’t be directly compared with these other private companies. You may talk about your popularity and “loyal readers” all you want, but that just makes you sound like the Sun newspaper or the Daily Mail, both immensely popular with the general public but simply not credible or respectable sources of information.

WW Forecast Team on 8/05/2017 10:42am

Hi again “anonymous”. You may work for MetService or NIWA, but either way you’ve certainly made it clear you don’t like the private sector! So there goes your fair and balanced debate.  It’s funny how little you know because our entire company is backed by meteorologists and principal scientists at, Wunderground, CNN and Weatherzone to name a few. In fact the 1500 forecasts we have (over MetService and NIWA’s combined 100 forecasts) are written or based on forecasts by Meteorologists with global understanding, not just Wellington NZ standards.

Luckily you in particular have two government agencies you fund in New Zealand to use. Not sure about you but I was raised to not go after people who provide free services.

WeatherWatch is supported by Civil Defence, the Ministry for Primary Industries, Ministers and MPs of parliament and staff at Radio New Zealand – so your comments that we are basically a tabloid are not only wrong, they are a direct insult to the people who visit our website.

I think we can both agree it’s time you stopped trolling our free service.

Cheers and goodbye.

Phiilip Duncan.

Guest on 11/05/2017 10:52pm

As a scientist in a non-weather related field, I get tired of defending science and fact to trolls who think they know better.

I personally prefer weatherwatch and love looking at the comments, articles etc. They provide insight that metservice doesn’t.

Would you rather go to a doctor that says, “yeah, I can do a mole check, but we only do the lower left arm, upper right should and both ankles, and the only feedback you get is ok/not ok”. Or a doctors that does a decent check all over and says, “hey that mole isn’t quite right, keep an eye on it, maybe get it rechecked in a year.”

Oh yeah, and service with a smile. Phillp, you have a lovely smile!


WW Forecast Team on 11/05/2017 11:01pm

Quite possibly the kindest message I’ve had this year. Thank you so much 🙂


Guest on 8/05/2017 12:39am

Despite reports in the media that Tropical Cyclone Donna has reached category 5, the RSMC Nadi Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre do not expect it to intensify from a category 4 in the near term. RSMC Nadi, in Fiji, are the official body responsible for this system. The official update will be issued around 1pm, but their forecasters do not expect Donna to increase to category 5

WW Forecast Team on 8/05/2017 1:03am

Hi there – our update coming out soon addresses this. Fiji only update every 6 hours – things can change within 6 hours as the US forecasters have noted. It “spiked” at Cat 5, it wasn’t officially Cat 5.



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