Cyclone forming in Coral Sea

A new cyclone is forming in the Coral Sea, just two weeks after Cyclone Evan tore through the Pacific.

Cyclone Freda was discovered by the Fijian meteorological service.

WeatherWatch.co.nz head weather analyst Philip Duncan said it was still "50/50" whether Freda would form into a cyclone the size of Evan and cause the came levels of destruction.

Mr Duncan said the cyclone formed around 400km north east of Honiara in the Solomon Islands.

"It's a very, very long way out still for us, but there are increasing signs that this second cyclone is certainly going to put the north of New Zealand again at some sort of threat risk at the start of January.

"It's formed in a perfect place for cyclones - in the Coral Sea, which is a breeding ground for them - it's a very, very warm body of water off the Queensland coast towards Papua New Guinea and the Solomons.

"It's naturally wanting to pull in the south-east, down towards New Zealand and we see a lot of these lows doing this.

"It will race over the Solomons tonight (and) ... bring a period of very heavy rain which will last probably 24 hours or so and bring some hurricane-force winds for a time and then it will be gone."

Mr Duncan said by Sunday Freda will be clearing the Solomon Islands and by New Years' Eve will be pushing into the western side of New Caledonia.

Although New Caledonia was likely to be worst affected, Freda was likely to bring rough seas to northern New Zealand, Mr Duncan said.

The areas hardest hit would be Northland, Coromandel and the East Cape on January 4 and 5, Mr Duncan said.

"The interesting thing is not all the computer models are picking it, the same computer model that picked Evan isn't picking this one to be a big one."

Mr Duncan said the same computer models could not be relied on every time and he was waiting for the severity of Freda to be predicted by different sources before issuing any weather warnings.

"The fact that we're getting another tropical low so quickly after another one and it's forming in a different part of the tropics does show that we are in quite an unsettled pattern at the moment, and this could last a couple more weeks.

"If people are a bit tired of the cloud around the country - especially in the north - this may not be the end of it."

- By Brendan Manning of APNZ

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