Cyclone Gita due to hit today

Severe weather warnings have been issued as cyclone Gita approaches New Zealand today.

Tropical cyclone Gita zig zagged through the tropics last week, first tracking east, then swinging in a u-turn to head west,causing damage in Samoa, Tonga and Fiji as well as New Caledonia on it’s way. It then swung in an arc south west then southward, then south eastward towards the middle of New Zealand.  While no longer tropical cyclone strength there are warnings it may cause major problems through heavy rain, strong winds and a storm surge (up to 7 metre swells).

CYCLONE GITA UPDATE (Metservice 2:41 am Tuesday 20 February):

Cyclone Gita is currently undergoing extra-tropical transition, and has been re-classified as ‘Former Cyclone Gita’. Although Gita is no longer a tropical cyclone, it’s still expected to significantly impact much of central New Zealand over the next 24 hours.

Heavy rain is already occurring from Taranaki southwards to the Sounds, and is expected to spread over Buller, Nelson and the remainder of Marlborough over the next few hours.

Strong winds are expected to develop early this afternoon into this evening for the entire country, with the potential for damaging wind gusts from Taranaki and Taihape south to Westland and Banks Peninsula, including Wellington.

Watches and warnings remain in effect for Strong Winds and Heavy Rain, available on, along with your latest weather forecast.

So it looks like the top of the South Island is going to bear the brunt of Gita, in particular the Nelson and Buller areas, but with a much wider area affected.

Gita has transitioned from a tropical cyclone to a cyclone as it has headed south into the mid latitudes. Metservice blog: Tropical cyclones: extra-tropical transition

So, how does this extra-tropical transition take place? When a well-developed tropical cyclone reaches its peak in the heart of the tropics, it has an eye. The eye is often fairly cloud-free, nearly circular, and surrounded by a ring of very active thunderstorms. In the early and middle parts of their lives, tropical cyclones stand up quite vertically in the atmosphere, like large columns.

Besides encountering cooler seas, tropical cyclones heading towards New Zealand eventually come under the influence of the westerlies. The westerlies of the mid-latitudes increase in strength with height, a phenomenon known as vertical wind shear. This shear almost literally chops off the upper part of the tropical cyclone and sweeps it away, not unlike a woodcutter chopping off the upper part of a coconut tree to leave a section just above the ground (except it’s a much more gradual and subtle process). Along with the lower sea temperatures of the mid-latitudes, this destroys the positive feedback processes within the cyclone.

What remains is the former tropical cyclone’s low-level circulation, which may get carried off in the westerlies or become the focus of further development if conditions are right. Either way, tropical cyclones approaching the New Zealand area undergo drastic changes of structure and appearance as they undergo this extra-tropical transition.

Metservice Severe Weather Warning:

Heavy Rain Warning

Heavy rain may cause streams and rivers to rise rapidly. Surface flooding and slips are also possible and driving conditions may be hazardous.

Area: Nelson and Buller
Valid: 14 hours from 7:00am to 9:00pm Tuesday
Forecast: Expect 150 to 200mm of rain to accumulate in Nelson west of Motueka, and 90 to 150mm elsewhere. Peak intensities of 20 to 30mm/hr possible.

Area: Marlborough including the Kaikoura Coast
Valid: 15 hours from 7:00am to 10:00pm Tuesday
Forecast: Expect 150 to 200mm of rain to accumulate about higher ground, and 90 to 140mm elsewhere. Peak intensities of 20 to 30mm/hr possible.

Area: Wellington and Kapiti Coast
Valid: 15 hours from 1:00am to 4:00pm Tuesday
Forecast: Expect 75 to 100mm of rain to accumulate during the period. Peak intensities 20 to 30mm per hour during the morning. Further lighter rain is expected from late Tuesday afternoon to midnight Tuesday.

Area: Canterbury Plains (excluding Christchurch)and High Country, the ranges of Westland
Valid: 27 hours from 12:00pm Tuesday to 3:00pm Wednesday
Forecast: Expect 150 to 200mm of rain to accumulate during this period about Canterbury High Country, and 90 to 120mm elsewhere. Peak intensities of 20 to 30mm/hr possible about Canterbury High Country.

Strong Wind Warning

Strong wind gusts could damage trees, powerlines and unsecured structures. Driving may be hazardous, especially for high-sided vehicles and motorcycles.

Area: Taranaki, Taihape, Whanganui
Valid: 10 hours from 3:00pm Tuesday to 1:00am Wednesday
Forecast: Severe gale north to northwest winds gusting 120 km/h in exposed parts of North Taranaki, but damaging gusts of 140 km/h in exposed parts of South Taranaki, Whanganui and Taihape.

Area: Manawatu, Kapiti-Horowhenua, Wellington and Wairarapa including the Tararua District
Valid: 8 hours from 7:00pm Tuesday to 3:00am Wednesday
Forecast: Severe gale north to northwest winds gusting 120 km/h in exposed places, but 130 km/h in Wellington on Tuesday evening.

Area: Nelson and Buller
Valid: 8 hours from 2:00pm to 10:00pm Tuesday
Forecast: Severe gale east to northeast winds with damaging gusts of 130 to 140 km/h in exposed places.

Area: Marlborough including the Kaikoura Coast
Valid: 12 hours from 3:00pm Tuesday to 3:00am Wednesday
Forecast: Severe gale southeasterlies gusting 120 km/h or more in exposed places.

Area: Westland and the Canterbury High Country near the Alps
Valid: 13 hours from 12:00pm Tuesday to 1:00am Wednesday
Forecast: Severe gale southeast winds with damaging gusts of 150 km/h possible in exposed places.

Area: Canterbury from Banks Peninsula northwards
Valid: 8 hours from 7:00pm Tuesday to 3:00am Wednesday
Forecast: Severe south to southeast gales gusting 120 km/h in exposed places.

This warning will be updated by: 11:00am Tuesday 20-Feb-2018

That’s strong winds but they don’t seem out of the ordinary for gales. There is a lot of rain forecast in mid New Zealand.

RNZ: Country prepares for Cyclone Gita

The worst affected areas are likely to be Taranaki, the Kāpiti Coast, the Marlborough Sounds, Nelson, the West Coast, and the east coast as far down as Canterbury.

Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn was expecting storm surges and more than 100mm of rain overnight – in an area already struggling to clean up damage from cyclone Fehi earlier this month.

Following a meeting this afternoon, the Ministry of Education directed all Buller/Grey district schools to close for two days.

Civil Defence has alerted 2000 campers on the West Coast with a special app with notifications.

Accommodation providers on the coast are also telling tourists about the cyclone.

In Marlborough, Civil Defence is asking campers, trampers and boaties to leave the area today if they can, or find themselves somewhere safe to hole up.

Heavy rain could cause slips, rapidly rising streams and rivers, and flooding, with State Highways 6, 1 and 63 potentially affected, said Marlborough Civil Defence spokesman Glyn Walters.

The Interislander ferry said sailing will be rough on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, but at this stage it isn’t expecting to cancel services.

The latest MetService forecasts showed the cyclone arriving a band from the west across the south of the North Island and the north of the South Island.


Leave a comment


  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  February 20, 2018

    Thanks to it giving Northland a wide berth not expecting much more than some showers later today and tomorrow with a bit of breeze. A nice change from the usual beat up as it travels down the country.

    • Gezza

       /  February 20, 2018

      I’ll just go out & spit in its eye & larf at it. We do that in Welly.

      • Gezza

         /  February 20, 2018

        Just steady rain here in Tawa, since midnight. Not particularly heavy, but constant. Stream’s up about 3 feet & holding. This sort of period of soaking by uninterrupted rainfall will be causing a few small slips at the edges of road cuttings around here.

      • Gezza

         /  February 20, 2018

        Aspen on the fence, outside the kitchen window – just standing, unconcerned in the rain, under the tree, looking in the kitchen window.

        He’s like a little wary dog. He’s always the first one here every morning. He’s been fed, but he just hangs around my backyard on & off all day. The others all tend to visit for breakfast & dinner & get back down into the stream for their day’s mahi. Aspen just likes my company for some reason.

        It’s as calm as anything. Not a breath of wind, but the ceaseless rain’s getting heavier, so I expect Welly’s going to have flooding & slips as predicted. Wind’s not due till much later today.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  February 20, 2018

        We used to quote King Lear’s speeches, Gezza, but fart in its eye if that’s your scene.

        There’s a bit of wind and rain here in the Waikato, but nothing major, It’s been fine & very hot all day, some cloud by about 3pm and now rain that isn’t heavy. It’s quite dark, though. Well, it was a minute ago. The rain is steady, but still not too heavy.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  February 20, 2018

          Sometimes it can be too still, if you know what I mean, and that can be unnerving.

          • Gezza

             /  February 20, 2018

            Yes, the famous Calm Before The Storm. That is actually what it feels like. A bit eerie, portentous. Still no wind here at all.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  February 20, 2018

              It rained for at the most 20 minutes, now it’s sunny again.

              There’s a little wind.

              I turned the television on a few minutes early thinking that there might be something about the storm…but there is a puerile American comedy with hammy acting, smart-arse children and a witless plot. Who watches this sort of thing ?

            • Gezza

               /  February 20, 2018

              2 minutes to midnight & just the occasional gusty, not particularly high velocity blow in North Welly so far. We might be lucky & escape a gale.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  February 21, 2018

              It’s odd how the Calm Before The Storm FEELS like the Calm Before the Storm and not just ordinary still weather.

  2. Zedd

     /  February 20, 2018

    Take care folks in the path of gita…

  3. Gezza

     /  February 20, 2018

    Evans Bay, Wellington. Was quite surprised at the high landing speeds of aircraft coming in to land at Welly airport. Much faster than usual when they land from a Northern approach. Then remembered, there’s no wind – still very calm for Wellington. 12.10pm


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