Weather: Cyclone Gita could be the southernmost tropical cyclone ever
Wind GUST map for 6pm Tuesday:
18 February, 2017
Cyclone Gita could break a record by striking further south than any previous tropical cyclone, according to one forecaster.
The tropical cyclone is now classified as a strong Category 2 as it moves through the Pacific, where it is making a U-turn toward middle New Zealand.
Most of the North Island is due for a hot, humid Sunday as Gita pushes a rainband ahead of it.
But it's only the start, with the MetService warning of impending heavy rain and damaging winds when Gita arrives. The forecaster is warning people to prepare for Gita's arrival by tying down loose furniture and getting supplies ready.
The tropical cyclone is expected to curve southeast late today or early on Monday and track toward us.
While the MetService predicted Gita will have lost its cyclone status by the time it arrives late on Tuesday, Weatherwatch predicted the cyclone could still be a Category 2.
WeatherWatch forecaster Philip Duncan said he had never seen such a southern tropical cyclone before, tweeting that it could break a record if it remained a tropical cyclone when it arrived in the 40th parallel.
Even as an ex-cyclone, Gita will still be a major storm according to the MetService. Heavy rain and severe gales mean there will likely be significant coastal damage, with waves up to 12m.
Heavy rain is expected from Waitomo down to the Lakes district, while severe gales are likely to hit the upper South Island and the West Coast, as well as Taranaki and Wellington.
Civil Defence says be ready for power cuts, water outages
18 February, 2017
Civil Defence is warning people to plan ahead as Cyclone Gita heads our way, bringing heavy rain and high winds.
MetService is predicting Gita, which will be an ex-cyclone when it hits the country, will track across central New Zealand from late tomorrow.
The West Coast of the lower North Island and the top of the South Island are in for a hammering.
Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management director Sarah Stuart-Black said the storm could pack a punch.
She said people should prepare for power cuts, water outages and road closures.
Mrs Stuart-Black said it was a good idea to have a grab-bag in case of evacuation, and a household emergency plan.
The cyclone is currently tracking south-west of New Caledonia, but Metservice said it was expected to curve south-east and head towards New Zealand.
Though it was likely to be downgraded to an ex-tropical cyclone by the time it reached New Zealand, heavy rain and strong winds were still forecast.
A severe weather watch has been issued for a number of areas and Metservice said people should be aware of the potential for coastal inundation, flooding and damaging gales.
A heavy rain watch is in place for Marlborough, Nelson, Buller, Canterbury and parts of Westland, and Horowhenua, Kapiti and Wellington, from the early hours of Tuesday.
A strong wind watch is also in place for many of those areas for Tuesday afternoon onwards.
Metservice forecaster Rob Kerr said the centre of the storm would pass over the country on Wednesday.
Once the cyclone had made its turn, forecasters would begin to have a better idea of what areas were likely to take the biggest hit.
Here's the latest track for TC Gita. Slightly faster onto NZ, with Gita maintaining 'Tropical Cyclone' status until 35°S! Expect associated Warnings and Watches to start appearing at http://bit.ly/AllWarnings later today ^RK
As well as the wind and rain, Mr Kerr said Metservice would be assessing what impact the timing of high tides would have on storm surges in coastal areas.
"We were very unlucky with (ex-cyclone) Fehi recently that high tide peaked at the time when the tropical cyclone and biggest swells were coming through.
"So that's something we will have to look at with the variation of timing and potential for high tides affecting those areas as well."
Meanwhile, all alerts have been lifted in New Caledonia as Tropical Cyclone Gita heads towards the south.