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Tropical Cyclone forming near Vanuatu and Solomons, ‘Severe Cat 4’ possible – Weatherwatch NZ

A tropical low has rapidly deepened near Vanuatu and the Solomons this weekend. The Pacific based Joint Typhoon Warning Centre (JTWC) says in a recent update that the storm has now reached tropical cyclone status. However in the South Pacific, for this location, it will be the Fiji Met Service to announce the cyclone has formed and give it a name. Fiji Met expects that to happen this afternoon.

JTWC says this week the storm has potential to be a Severe Category 4 Tropical Cyclone. It is not yet locked in, but longe range international modelling has been showing the storm forming for the best part of this past week and is likely to become a named tropical cyclone today, Sunday.

The storm will affect the northern and possibly central islands of Vanuatu and the eastern side of the Solomons.

On Saturday evening the Pacific based Joint Typhoon Warning Centre (JTWC) lifted the risk of a cyclone forming within the next 24 hours to HIGH. The risk was low only 12 hours earlier on Saturday morning. By noon Sunday they had announced a cyclone has formed – now we wait for the Fiji Met Service to announce it, likely Sunday afternoon or evening.

JTWC tracking (US Govt)


Tracking does take the storm through northern to central parts of Vanuatu – but strength, timing and tracking are still not locked in. Those in Vanuatu and the eastern Solomon Islands should keep up to date with local authorities over the coming hours and days.

The cyclone is forming 10 days earlier than the official cyclone starts, which runs from November 1 to March 31.


Future tracking southwards is unclear. El Nino tends to put more high pressure between NZ and Australia…a bit like an invisible brick wall in the sky to make it harder for tropical cyclones to reach NZ. However, highs aren’t always continuous in this zone so we’ll be monitoring any possible impact to the New Zealand area later this coming week. It is possible the leftovers of this tropical low may track into or near NZ – but please remember sea temperatures are only just past their very coldest of the year at our latitude, so we are not expecting a tropical storm coming into NZ, it will very likely fall apart or weaken significantly (ie, don’t think this is another Gabrielle for NZ).

At this stage all modelling shows the storm falling apart as it heads out of the tropics and becoming a fairly weak sub-tropical low. High pressure in the NZ area will be the main guiding force. We need to explain this extra NZ detail as anxiety levels and PTSD are real for many following the storms and catastrophic floods earlier this year in the North Island, which some weather forecasters experienced too.

For now, the focus on this storm is very much on the potential issues for northern and central Vanuatu and the eastern Solomon Islands and there are no concerning long range weather maps for NZ, despite the remnants likely coming our way next weekend. We’ll have more details in our regular NZ weather vids, our next update on Tuesday lunchtime (after Labour Day holiday on Monday).

-WeatherWatch.co.nz is now providing extra Australia-only and Pacific-only updates on top of all our daily NZ content, so we’ll be covering storms for the tropics-only too as we go through this cyclone season. As always, keep up to date with any future local watches and warnings – in this case Vanuatu Meteorology.

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