Tropical Cyclone Winston which formed early Wednesday at west-northwest of Suva, Fiji was on its way to the north of New Zealand this afternoon when it made an almost U-turn and on its current track it could strike Tonga.
WeatherWatch New Zealand said this afternoon Cyclone Winston has ramped up into a severe tropical cyclone and is now a Category 4 system.
It was expected it “will increase the chances of more dangerous beach conditions reaching New Zealand”.
WeatherWatch said “the cyclone itself is likely to actually swing back north, after tracking south, so it poses no direct threat to New Zealand” .
“However this swing back north in a few days may impact Tonga – and help set up very humid airflow down into New Zealand later next week”.
Winston has central air pressure of 947hPa this morning and has sustained winds of 175km/h and is still strengthening, expected to get 185km/h today, with gusts well over 200km/h.
Meanwhile Tropical Cyclone Tatiana remains a Category 1 cyclone in the Coral Sea and should lose it’s cyclone status this weekend.
Meanwhile Tonga’s Met Services has issued a heavy rain warning for Tongatapu,’Eua and Ha’apai this afternoon.
It said a trough lies slow moving to the southwest of Tongatapu and ‘Eua, associated clouds and rain may affect parts of the group.