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Three new cyclone threats north of NZ

Meteorological agencies are today forecasting as many as three new tropical cyclones may form north of New Zealand before the end of the weekend as La Nina conditions ramp up the cyclone season.

In the Coral Sea, where Zelia was born, the Bureau of Meteorology in Australia predicts a “moderate” chance of a cyclone forming on Saturday.

Further east, under the watch of the Fiji Meteorological Service, two areas of concern are being monitored.

The first is an area between Vanuatu and New Caledonia – the exact same area that Vania was created.  They rate the chance of a cyclone forming there in the next one to three days as “moderate”, or a 20 to 50 percent chance.

Image: Pink shows a moderate risk of a cyclone developing on Saturday, red shows a high chance / Fiji Meteorological Service

And a little further east of Fiji and north of Tonga the Fiji Meteorological Service predicts a moderate chance of a cyclone forming in the next two days, but elevates that to “high” (over 50% chance) by Saturday. says that it’s too early to know if any of them will affect New Zealand but that early predictions are that the remnants of one these lows may affect Bay of Plenty, East Cape and Gisborne later this weekend.

People in Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu and New Caledonia should be monitoring the development of these systems closely.

Head weather analyst Philip Duncan says Vania and Zelia have left the gate wide open to the tropics.  “There has been a profound shift in the weather pattern around northern New Zealand which has literally opened the flood gates to the tropical and sub-tropical South Pacific”.

“While we don’t anticipate anything significant for New Zealand at this stage, we do expect high humidity and periods of rain, possibly heavy, to move back into the northern half of the North Island by late Friday”.

Mr Duncan also says the heavy rain bands may affect areas further east, such as Bay of Plenty, East Cape and Gisborne.

Mr Duncan says while Zelia and Vania caused very few problems here in New Zealand they have helped make northern New Zealand more vulnerable to future tropical and sub-tropical lows.

“I think it’s safe to say that northern New Zealand’s summer will now be entering a wet season”, a reference to the wet season that moves into tropical and sub-tropical regions north of us at this time of the year.

“La Nina is contributing to the wet season in a dramatic way this year”.

NIWA says that New Zealand is still at an elevated risk of a cyclone this summer. says that just because we’ve had two ex-cyclones move down here already that doesn’t lower our risk for the next few months. will keep you up to date on the future of these potential tropical storms in the coming days.



Dave on 20/01/2011 8:40am

hey guys, the current GFS is showing 150mm+ for Auckland around Monday, wow!

WW Forecast Team on 20/01/2011 8:50am

The GFS predictions have been chopping and changing fairly wildly this week…will need at least 2 or 3 runs in a row to see if the latest predictions are accurate.

Our data does show Monday looks wetter than any other day over the next week though.

– WeatherWatch

Dave on 20/01/2011 8:59am

Bom’s Access model and ecmwf also shows the low moving down 🙂
But yes, too much variability to say for sure. If it is still saying this tomorrow evening that will be significant I think…

Guest on 20/01/2011 1:43am

Just out of curosity, as cyclones are named from A through to Z as they form during the cyclone season and the last one was Zelia, how does the next cyclone get named?


WW Forecast Team on 20/01/2011 2:07am

Because our part of the world does it very differently to the US Hurricane season it can be very tricky to work out what the next name will be.  On top of that, we have two naming authorities for cyclones near NZ – one is Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology the other is the Fiji Weather Service.  If a storm forms in Australian waters the next name will be Anthony.  If it forms in Fiji waters it will be named Wilma I believe.

More info here:


Philip Duncan

Guest on 20/01/2011 12:41am

Fingers crossed for a cyclone that’s not damaging!

Dave on 19/01/2011 7:48pm

Yeah I see that happening up there. The models seem to be thinking that we won’t see much from them down here. Hopefully a high coming next week will keep them out because I am on holiday in the Coromandel for a week!

My guess is one cyclone will form somewhere near Fiji so it will have a mind of its own if that happens & could go anywhere

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