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Tropical Cyclone threat for Fiji – what about NZ?

WeatherWatch.co.nz forecasters are continuing to closely monitor a predicted deep and aggressive low near Fiji this coming weekend and with each passing day confidence is mounting that this could become the first tropical cyclone of the south west Pacific cyclone season.

Head weather analyst Philip Duncan says reliable models – which accurately picked past cyclones such as Yasi and Wilma – is now predicting a large storm this Sunday in Fiji.  “The models show this likely tropical cyclone slamming Fiji from the east on Sunday and Monday then it has the potential to drift towards New Zealand”.

Mr Duncan says Fiji residents should be preparing now for floods, landslides, coastal flooding and powercuts.

However Mr Duncan says it’s too soon to know if the predicted tropical cyclone could impact New Zealand, but suggests that things are stacked against it reaching us.  “We expect the swells to possibly reach New Zealand from the north east but as for wind and rain it’s still too early to say but looking unlikely at this early stage. Historically speaking it’s in a prime position to reach us but the one thing confusing things is a large high currently over New Zealand”

The large high is expected to remain in control and in charge of New Zealand’s weather for at least another seven days.

Highs are basically one of the main enemies for tropical storms – they can help pull them apart and kill them off – so having a high protecting New Zealand could be helpful.


Image / Sunday evening NZT / weathermap.co.nz – see more maps here

But it depends on your definition of “helpful”.

The deluge that accompanied last week’s tornado in Auckland reversed the incredibly dry conditions across large portions of Bay of Plenty, Waikato and other North and South Islands regions.

However Gisborne and Hawkes Bay mostly missed out and are bone dry.

James Morrison (@weatherbom on Twitter) specialises in frost and rain forecasts for winegrowers in Hawkes Bay and he raised a valid point on Twitter on Tuesday; “4.9mm of rain in Hastings in the past 4 weeks. It looks like February not December”.

In other words – Hawkes Bay desperately needs rain.

A potential cyclone brushing New Zealand’s north eastern coastline – which would affect Gisborne and Hawkes Bay – could be a blessing in disguise if not a direct and aggressive hit.

So what are the chances this potential cyclone could hit New Zealand?  WeatherWatch.co.nz says “low risk”. 

“Unfortunately – or fortunately depending on how you look at it – the high that will be to the east of NZ next week – and is currently over us today – looks likely to stop this storm from hitting us.  This high may last, in fact, until Christmas Day but will likely weaken over us in the days before Christmas”.

WeatherWatch.c.o.nz will monitor the storm and will update again this week – as the location of it makes it “one to watch” even though the current threat to New Zealand is deemed to be “low” by WeatherWatch.co.nz.

– WeatherWatch.co.nz

Comments

Green on 13/12/2012 4:51am

Hi, we have our teenage son due to fly home here to NZ on Sunday from Nadi. Do you think the cyclone will be bad enough to impact his safe return?

WW Forecast Team on 13/12/2012 5:56am

The cyclone is moving towards Fiji on Sunday and at this stage outer reaches of the storm will start to affect the Island (doesn’t necessarily mean strong winds or heavy rain in those areas).

I’m sure the airline will not fly if they consider it a risk to do so.

Cheers
Aaron

Greg on 13/12/2012 1:44am

If it did track towards NZ(I think you mentioned a 30% chance), what would be the estimated arrival date?

WW Forecast Team on 13/12/2012 2:27am

It would be 10 days away atleast so exact times will vary. 23rd of Decemeber perhaps, maybe 24th.

By then it would just be a low pressure system (ex tropical cyclone) if it did make it near us.

Cheers
Aaron

Guest on 11/12/2012 9:24pm

I have a question – putting aside the influence of the high pressure cell, why would the cyclone possibly track to NZ, when cyclones spawned in the Coral sea (ie North west of NZ) tend to track in a South east path ? If this one is already NNE of NZ, wouldn’t it always just slide well to the east of us (assuming a similar SE path) ?

hitadmin on 12/12/2012 1:11am

Hi there

Great question – yes you’re bang on, Coral Sea cyclones almost always track south east towards us (at least the ones in the southern Coral Sea do).  However at the lattitude that Fiji is at they tend to be travelling in a westerly direction (the opposite to our general direction which travels to the east from the west).  So at the moment it is moving W or WSW…..towards NZ.  If the high to the south of it puffs up more on the eastern side that could help tip the low further our way, tilting it more in a SW flow then S.   Our confidence has gone from 20% yesterday to 30% today of this low impacting northern NZ.  Still not high chances but are fairly high risk for such a long range forecast.  One to watch.

– Phil

Chris. J on 11/12/2012 7:21pm

We have Fijian people where I live, so I’ll pass this on to them today to ensure their families know. The weather is still odd feeling (and looking), temps aside, it is more like late winter/spring where I live on the Kapiti Coast. Been wondering what next! Let’s hope the blocking high stays in place, well for now anyway.

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