New Zealand may be in direct path of looming cyclone

NEW Zealand may be in the direct path of a cyclone still forming in the Pacific.

WeatherWatch head weather analyst Philip Duncan said latest modelling showed a rapidly deepening severe tropical storm developing near Vanuatu set to unleash its fury on the region before making a beeline for the North Island next week.

Mr Duncan said it would be the third cyclone this season to head our way but potentially the first to make landfall.

"At this time of the year, over these incredibly warm seawaters north of New Zealand, this may well grow into a serious cyclone in the tropical South Pacific," said Mr Duncan.


While it was too early to lock in what might specifically happen in New Zealand, long-range models indicated northern regions had a moderate risk of being directly impacted.

"It's a bit tricky locking in the future track of a storm that is yet to even form, but latest data guidance suggests the centre of the low might cross the north east of the North Island -- or perhaps just offshore from East Cape next Tuesday or Wednesday.

"We'll need to wait until the end of this week to get a better idea on any possible severe weather here. The way cyclones form means the difference between fairly normal weather -- and damaging cyclone weather -- can be as little as a hundred kilometres, this makes long range precise forecasts of severe weather very tricky."

The tropical low was expected to rapidly deepen into a severe tropical storm near Vanuatu towards the end of the week.

European weather models are predicting the new cyclone may weaken before reaching New Zealand.

Mr Duncan said there was a very large pool of low pressure north of New Zealand with conditions perfect for cyclone formation.

Fiji Meteorological Service is reporting a "high risk" of a cyclone forming by Thursday between Vanuatu and Fiji which would then track southwards.

Forecasters would have a better idea in another 48 hours as to the likely track and intensity of the cyclone.

Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu in March last year registering as one of the worst storms in the country's history.

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