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Tropical trouble brewing

The tropics have been somewhat quiet this year – especially when compared to the dramatic cyclone season last year.  However activity is about to step up with three zones showing signs of life.

Firstly, the Fiji Meteorological Service is warning of two potential risk zones for tropical cyclone activity – but the chance of a cyclone forming in either of these zones is considered “low” or “20% chance” according to the forecaster.

The first risk area will drift over Fiji on Tuesday and Wednesday – if a tropical cyclone fails to develop wind and heavy rain is still predicted.  Fiji has had serious and deadly flooding in the past few months – this tropical low will be unwelcome by many.

The other risk zone lies over Tonga, and like the Fiji risk zone it also comes with a low risk of actually producing a tropical cyclone – but the risk is still there for wind and rain regardless of if a storm is named.

But the highest risk lies directly to our north west, around the Coral Sea and Vanuatu.

Last week said the Coral Sea would be a high risk zone for tropical storm development in the coming two weeks – and as early as this coming weekend we may have a tropical cyclone forming near Vanuatu.

The predicted storm is expected to form over the Coral Sea – which means, to begin with, it will be Australian forecasters who predict, name and track it.  However cyclone outlooks for the Coral Sea only go out for 72 hours – and this storm isn’t expected to get going until Saturday or Sunday.

Three of the most reliable models used by all indicate a significant tropical storm forming north of New Zealand – but only one has it picked coming directly towards us. says those in the upper North Island should monitor the latest rain maps and weather news updates. 

The weather news authority says the computer models need to have a couple more days of updates before a more concrete prediction for New Zealand can be made, but in light of the recent sub-tropical lows and northern floods and gales the accurate tracking of this potential storm will be very important.

In a nutshell

  • Two “low risk” zones for cyclone development in the next three days – one around Fiji the other around Tonga
  • No risk of a cyclone in the Coral Sea in the next 72 hours
  • has moderate to high confidence a cyclone or tropical storm will form in the Coral Sea this weekend
  • The risk of NZ being hit by the Coral Sea cyclone next week is considered “low at this early stage” – one reliable model shows a direct hit, while another reliable model shows it missing NZ well to our north east.  Still a lot of uncertainty – so watch this space for updates. exclusive



DV on 26/03/2012 6:08pm

Thanks for the update. I have been watching this forecast from other sites and was wondering how valid the outlook is. Will be watching this one closely.

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