Patrice Dougan is a NZME. News Service reporter based in Auckland.

Cyclone Ula may strike New Zealand this week

This image taken by the geostationary MTSAT satellite shows Cyclone Ula in the Pacific Ocean heading towards New Zealand. Photo / Supplied
This image taken by the geostationary MTSAT satellite shows Cyclone Ula in the Pacific Ocean heading towards New Zealand. Photo / Supplied

Tropical Cyclone Ula may strike New Zealand this week, possibly bringing heavy rain to the top of the North Island.

The category 3 storm is today halfway between Fiji and New Caledonia, but may come within reach of New Zealand as early as Tuesday, weather forecasters say.

The slow moving storm is tracking west-southwest, MetService said, and the remnants of the cyclone may move to within the northeast of the North Island by Tuesday, bringing with it bands of heavy rain to the Far North.

It is unlikely Cyclone Ula would bring warning levels of rain with it to New Zealand, both MetService and WeatherWatch said, as it will gradually weaken as it leaves the tropics and moves south.

There is "a fairly good chance of some rain", but it's unlikely to be severe, WeatherWatch said.

MetService also said there was a "low confidence" it would bring warning amounts of rain.

And campers were advised to hold out hope - as there was a chance the storm would sweep past the country.

"The computer models are showing the centre of the storm weakening and pulling away to the south east, offshore to New Zealand's east coast," WeatherWatch said.

"But, as with any cyclone in our neighbourhood, there's always the chance it may 'wobble' a little in its path, and that could mean some chance it moves a little closer to land."

And it could be good news for surfers, as WeatherWatch said even if the storm remains offshore there would be a chance of large swells.

"But deep offshore lows can bring in dangerous rips and currents, even if the weather is sunny on the beach, something particularly important to note with so many families on holiday."

It said the chance of a "direct hit" from Cyclone Ula was low, based on its latest weather modelling, adding: "Generally speaking, it's not looking too concerning."

But even if Cyclone Ula skips past relatively unnoticed, the North Island is in for rain in the coming week.

Tuesday showed the chance of rain across northern parts, but a large high would roll back in bringing mainly dry, settled weather across the country, Weather Watch said.

MetService warned a front is expected to move northeast over the south of the South Island late on Tuesday and during Wednesday morning, with the possibility of warning amounts of rain in Fiordland.

Main centres forecast

•Whangarei: Sunday will see cloudy periods, a chance of a shower, and a high of 24C. Cloudy periods on Monday, the odd shower, easterlies and a high of 23C.

•Auckland: Cloudy periods today, with a shower or two and southwesterlies, a high of 22. Monday will be fine, with a few afternoon showers in the west, with easterlies and a high of 24C.

•Hamilton: Cloudy periods, with the chance of a shower today, a high of 23C. Fine spells on Monday, and the chance of an afternoon showers, light winds and a high of 22C.

•Tauranga: A chance of a morning shower on Sunday, then fine, with westerlies and a high of 25C. Cloudy periods and a few showers on Monday, a northeast develops, and a high of 21C.

•Wellington: Cloud increasing on Sunday, with the chance of showers, a strong northerly changes to a southerly, with a high of 23C. Tomorrow will be fine apart from evening cloud, northerlies develop, and a high of 20C.

•Christchurch: Sunday will see cloudy periods, a chance of morning showers, and a strong southerly change, with a high of 19C. Monday will become fine in the morning, a developing northeasterly, and a high of 19C.

•Dunedin: A few showers today, clearing in the afternoon, a gale southeast easing, with a high of 19C. Fine on Monday, with developing northeasterlies and a high of 18C.

- NZ Herald

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