Cyclone Lusi, which has killed at least three people in
Vanuatu is expected to smash into northern parts of New
Zealand by tonight.
But the cyclone centre is now expected to brush past the
north coast and not make landfall.
The deadly cyclone killed at least three people in Vanuatu
yesterday including a 6-year-old boy trapped in a mudslide,
and an elderly man and woman hit by flying debris in two
separate incidents, according to Paolo Malatu, Vanuatu
humanitarian team national co-ordinator said.
Another six, all women and children from the worst-hit island
of Santo, have been declared missing and are thought to have
been buried in mudslides.
The number of dead and missing was expected to increase as
communications systems were re-established on the island
nation, Mr Malatu said.
Mr Malatu's wife, Jessica, who works at the Melanesian Port
Vila Hotel said locals around the capital had been well
"The winds were very strong, and there was heavy rain."
There had been no damage at the hotel, and people were
relieved the storm had passed.
"We're all saved," she said.
Jine Freed, who works at the Warwick Le Lagon Resort &
Spa at the Erakor Lagoon in Port Vila, was able to return to
her family for the worst of the storm.
"We were scared."
While the wind had brought down some of the banana trees and
there had been a bit of flooding at her family home, it could
have been worse, Ms Freed said.
"Luckily, the [worst] rain and the wind was out at sea."
As the cyclone advances on New Zealand, people here are being
warned to batten down the hatches and prepare for severe
weather, including heavy rain and gale force winds with
potential gusts of up to 120 kmh.
Civil Defence yesterday issued warnings reminding people to
tie down and secure belongings, as well as to expect
flooding, slips, road closures, and power and phone outages.
It also warned people to review their travel plans, with a
number of events scheduled over the weekend, particularly
around Auckland which is expected to be on the receiving end
of some of the worst weather.
While the centre of the storm now looks set to track west,
just off North Cape and stay offshore, the storm still has
the potential to be severe and damaging.
The first signs of the storm would creep in this evening,
MetService warned, with conditions becoming cloudy and
blustery down through Northland, Auckland and the Coromandel.
"As we go through the daytime we will see the cloud thicken
up, the rain develop and the wind strengthening as well,"
meteorologist John Law said.
"The North Island in particular will find Saturday to be a
wet and windy day with gales quite widely and heavy falls of
"We've got a weather watch out for Northland, Auckland,
Coromandel, Bay of Plenty and towards Gisborne for some of
that rainfall and gales, also for the likes of Waikato and
the central plateau will see some of those easterly gales
Wind gusts could reach up to 110kmh-120kmh in exposed places,
The North Island will bear the brunt of the stormy weather
tomorrow before it moves south, hitting the South Island late
tomorrow night or in the early hours of Sunday morning.
MetService forecast potential persistent rain down the
eastern parts of the South Island, warning Christchurch
residents to be on their guard, following the recent floods.
However, WeatherWatch analyst Philip Duncan said latest
models looked like the storm might pass down the west of the
Southern Alps, saving Christchurch from much of the heavy
rain and severe winds. However, he advised residents to keep
an eye on forecasts.
Clouds were already building over Northland and Auckland last
night and the storm would continue forming throughout today,
Mr Duncan said.
The worst of the weather would hit northern regions tomorrow
night and into Sunday morning, with gale force winds and
bursts of heavy rain, he said.
"We will be seeing easterly winds picking up [on Friday] from
Waikato and Bay of Plenty northwards, and it will start to
get a little brisk in some areas too. It will ramp up a
little quicker once we get into Saturday and then it starts
to go downhill," Mr Duncan said.
Northern regions should gradually clear up on Sunday, as the
storm system moves south and west.
- By Patrice Dougan and Teuila Fuatai of APNZ
MetService: Cyclone Lusi is expected to track west of
North Cape, with the centre unlikely to make landfall.
However, severe weather is still forecast, with rain and
winds starting to creep into Northland, Auckland and the
Coromandel on Friday evening. The brunt of the storm will hit
on Saturday with gale force winds and heavy rain expected
across the North Island, in particular Northland, Auckland,
Coromandel. Bay of Plenty and Gisborne. Rain and gales could
also spread down through Waikato and the central plateau.
Wind gusts of up to 110k/h-120km/h could hit exposed places
on Saturday, with strong gusts expected to begin on Friday
night. The severe weather should begin to clear up on Sunday
for northern regions. Eastern parts of the South Island can
expect to see the storm hit late Saturday night into early
Sunday, with persistent rain expected.
WeatherWatch: Lusi will still be classified as a
cyclone when it hits New Zealand. However, it now looks like
the centre will track west and just brush past Cape Reinga.
This will make little difference to the severity of the
stormy weather, with severe winds still expected. Cloud is
already beginning to build up across Northland and Auckland
and this will continue throughout Friday, with the weather
deteriorating towards the evening. Saturday will see the
worst of the storm, with bursts of heavy rain, and gale force
winds, particularly in the Northland and Auckland regions,
down towards Waikato and the Bay of Plenty, growing
progressively worse as the day goes on. Saturday night and
early Sunday morning are expected to be the worst. It will
clear up throughout Sunday. The storm looks like it will
cross over the South Island more than previously thought, but
it may track down the west side of the Southern Alps, saving
Canterbury from much of the heavy rain and severe winds.
However, residents are advised to keep an eye on forecasts.