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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Tropical Cyclone Zelia weakening as it heads to NZ

Two tropical weather systems are heading towards New Zealand. Tropical Cyclone Vania has broken apart after lashing Vanuatu. The remnants of this storm will bring heavy rain to the Southern Island of New Zealand. Tropical Cyclone Zelia will retain a Category 1 status as it approaches land bringing sustained winds of 65 km/hr with gusts as high as 120 km/hr as it approaches and potentially crosses the northern island.

Cyclone could bring 120km/h gusts to NZ (NZ Herald)
A tropical cyclone could bring wind gusts of up to 120km/hr to New Zealand tomorrow, new predictions show.

Latest updates from the Fiji Metereological Service show Tropical Cyclone Zelia retaining Category 1 cyclone status through Tuesday.

Weatherwatch.co.nz head weather analyst Philip Duncan says that means it could bring sustained winds of 65km/hr and gusts of 120km/hr as it nears the upper North Island.

But the fact the strongest winds are near the centre of the cyclone may save the country from the worst of the storm, he says.

"The severe gales might only extend one or two hundred kilometres from the centre, so if the storm remains more than that distance from land before being downgraded you can see how many regions will miss the damaging winds altogether".
The biggest threat from these storms appears to be heavy rain. TC Zelia is expected to diminish in strength as it approaches the island nation by Tuesday. Even as the wind speeds decrease, the rainfall will still be heavy.

Cyclone still tracking towards New Zealand (Stuff.co.nz)
Cyclone Vania, which petered out on the weekend, is now an ex-tropical low and is expected to move across the northern South Island tomorrow.

Zelia was south of New Caledonia at 11am and accelerating.

"Although the exact track is not certain it will probably pass west of Northland and Auckland tomorrow afternoon and evening, move over the southern or central North Island on Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning, and pass west of Chatham Islands late on Wednesday," the warning says.

"It will not be a tropical cyclone by the time it reaches New Zealand but these lows are forecast to bring very humid conditions and a period of heavy rain and north to northwest gales..."

The heaviest rain falls of 200 to 250mm are expected near the ranges of Westland, Buller and Nelson north of about Franz Josef Glacier.

The strongest winds will depend mainly on the track of the second low.

"At this stage they are likely to be from Taranaki and Taumarunui to Taihape and inland Wanganui with gusts around 130 km/h in exposed places on Tuesday night."

Severe gales could also hit exposed North Island areas.

Coastal gale warnings have been posted for the sea areas Abel, Brett, Chatham Islands, Colville, Conway, Cook, Grey, Kaipara, Plenty, Portland, Puysegur, Raglan and Stephens.

The gale warning for Manukau and Waitemata harbours and the Hauraki Gulf warns of northeast rising to 25 knots, gusting to 35 knots Tuesday morning and 35 knots gusting 45 knots tomorrow night.

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