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TC Zelia strengthens o/night but should weaken today

Severe Tropical Cyclone Zelia remains a hurricane force system early Monday morning while racing towards New Zealand at 46km/h.  The storm strengthened a little further overnight. 

Zelia’s air pressure remains at 957hPa, according to the Fiji Meteorological Service making her a severe Category 3 cyclone – with the increased winds in the past 24 hours that now matches a Category 2 hurricane using the US Saffir-Simpson scale.

Zelia’s winds average 167km/h with gusts up to 220km/h, reports however the storm is about to start weakening.  The “eye” at the centre of the storm has now filled in according to the latest satellite maps, a sign she is now starting to weaken.

Full details and Map of predicted Track below says that by the time the two weakened ex-tropical systems reach New Zealand they will be no worse than many other lows that cross the country throughout the year.

“Zelia has enough oomph to maybe bring flooding rains but this is not going to be a repeat of previous cyclones, such as Drena, Fergus and Bola” says head weather analyst Philip Duncan.

“The positive is that they will move across New Zealand very quickly and be gone by Thursday. Most places will only have a day or two of off and on rain and some wind”.

“In saying that, as we always know with tropical systems, we need to closely monitor them and watch for particular rain bands that may cause flooding.  While the risk is mainly for the upper South Island and western North Island we ask that all New Zealanders in the north and west stay up to date with the latest forecasts and weather news”.

Mr Duncan says whenever a tropical cyclone is in our news the public are very interested in their development and tracking. “Some people love these storms many others do not, but either way there is always heavy interest in tropical cyclones that may impact New Zealand – even when they are weakening like these two”.

“I think it’s because we get very few cyclones down our way, so when one does come it sparks huge interest”.

Zelia is currently passing to the south of New Caledonia – far enough south to minimise a damaging hit however predicts that Norfolk Island, an Australian island 700kms north west of New Zealand, population 2100, could get hit fairly hard by the storm on Monday evening

Overnight the cyclone passed over 160 degrees East, which means it falls out of Australian authority hands and shifts to the Fiji Meteorological Service.

Despite her current intensity the deep depression is still projected to weaken significantly in the coming 48 hours as she moves out of the extra warm waters of the Coral Sea and into the Tasman.

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Sea temperatures under Zelia are around 28 degrees, compared to the much cooler waters around New Zealand which are only just above 20 in the north. Warm water is what fuels cyclones.

Waves near the centre of Zelia are estimated to be over 10 metres high, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre.

Both the remnants of Vania and Zelia should set in across New Zealand on Tuesday and Wednesday with predicting rain will be the main feature.

Vania is almost non-existent on the satellite map this morning but the depression does remain just north of us. estimates the centres of the two systems are now about 1000kms apart, about the same distance as Auckland to Dunedin.

The weather news authority says while winds may reach severe gale in some places it will most likely be the rain that cause problems, with neither system maintaining “cyclone strength” winds. predicts western and the upper South Island and western and northern facing regions of the North Island will be most exposed.

Both systems look set to make a west coast landfall overnight Tuesday/Wednesday morning, predicts, with the remnants of Vania pushing into the South Island and the remnants of Zelia pushing into the North Island and possibly upper South Island.

Out of the two low pressure systems Zelia is likely to have more energy, wind and rain.

But there is good news – the system is predicted to drop rain over thirsty farms in both islands, but because of its fast movement it should clear the country by Thursday.

The fast movement also reduces the chances of flooding for those regions further away from the centres of the lows.

Zelia’s track sees an upper North Island hit, according to JTWC



Guest on 16/01/2011 9:35pm

Started raining here in Northland, good steady rain, no wind at the moment, still very calm

chris r on 16/01/2011 9:04pm

There is a cb line north of Auckland as I write.

Visible from Manurewa

Dave on 16/01/2011 8:24pm

Hi Phil
That 2nd one sure looks like it is packing a punch. I doubt though that it will have as much effect due to it going down the Tasman. If it was tracking down the east coast it would probably be worse.

It seems unusual that it is moving so fast, they usually go very slowly until they come into cool waters. Is there any theory on why this one is moving at that speed?

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