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Tropical Cyclone Wilma to hit later today

“This is a powerful tropical cyclone that has the potential to cause both wind and rain damage” has issued yet another Storm Alert, the second this month and only the fourth in 12 months as Tropical Cyclone Wilma churns towards us.

Head weather analyst Philip Duncan says this storm is going to be more severe than last weekend’s sub-tropical low and warns campers and residents in the upper North Island to be prepared for severe weather conditions which include gales, torrential rain and dangerous seas.

Image / MetService weather chart as of 1pm Saturday shows Wilma still classed as a Tropical Cyclone. 

“The air pressure is going to be much lower, the winds much stronger than previous storms this month.  This is not a repeat of Zelia or Vania – this is a powerful tropical cyclone that has the potential to cause both wind and rain damage”.

“Because it’s more severe it doesn’t mean we’ll see a repeat of last weekend’s coastal floods in Auckland, which coincided with a king tide.  This is a whole different kettle of fish with some new regions and people being affected.  What happened last weekend damage-wise may not necessarily be repeated this weekend so everyone in the upper North Island should at least be aware of this nasty but fast moving system”.

Mr Duncan says the storm, regardless of whether it maintains the technical “tropical cyclone” term will be severe as it passes near the upper North Island.  “We’re talking sustained winds of at least 80 to 100km/h near the centre and gusts over 150km/h.  The only thing working for North Islanders is the fact that the low looks likely to brush our coastline rather than a direct hit on somewhere like Auckland”. says the public don’t need to panic despite the severe warnings, but rather be prepared for worst case scenarios, such as road closures, power cuts and minor damage to trees and weak structures.

“This is no Hurricane Katrina but for New Zealand it is a severe system and one to be aware of” says Mr Duncan. says the centre of the cyclone may track only 200kms from downtown Auckland. “That will make it incredibly close and if it maintains category 1 strength it could make for damaging winds in Northland, Auckland, Coromandel and particularly eastern Waikato where gusts may be even higher due to the geography of the Kaimais and Mt Te Aroha”.

Image: Wilma quickly moving out into the Pacific Ocean later on Saturday / GFS

The cyclone is much larger than Zelia and currently has an air pressure reading of 950hPa, yesterday it dropped to 930hPa.  According to MetService charts it will be a very deep low at 975hPa when it passes near the Bay of Islands early on Saturday morning.  Last weekend’s low was estimated to be around 986hPa.  The lower the air pressure the strong the winds.

Wilma is already producing large seas around the northeast coast of New Zealand.  “It’s like dropping a large rock into a pond” says Mr Duncan.  “The ripple effect will spread into places like eastern Northland, eastern Coromandel Peninsula and Bay of Plenty.  The seas are going to be incredibly dangerous and we’re advising even the keenest of surfers to stay out of the sea on Saturday”.



xtine on 28/01/2011 12:16pm

hi! is it advisable to travel from auckland to whangarei?

Guest on 28/01/2011 4:54am

Hey guys, great site by the way. What can we expect in napier? We got a lot of rain last storm and i think the farmers are happy with what they had haha.

Guest on 28/01/2011 2:16am

hi there, I’m supposed to be travelling to Auckland from vegas tomorrow morning. Do you think we should leave tonight and be in Auckland by around 6.30-7.00 or drive up tomorrow late morning?

WW Forecast Team on 28/01/2011 2:40am

I’d say leave tonight if you can – although the downside would be Auckland’s traffic on a Friday before a long weekend!!  But hopefully most of it will be coming the other way.  Drive safely 🙂 

Philip Duncan


Guest on 28/01/2011 12:23am

Is Wilma going to be strong in West Auckland? … is there any need for me to ‘batton down’ the outside furniture and kids toys outside?

WW Forecast Team on 28/01/2011 2:16am

We expect some strong gusts overnight and tomorrow, hopefully not enough to cause serious problems in West Auckland. 

– WeatherWatch

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