Cyclone set to strike Australia, but NZ in for a soaking

Tropical Cyclone Oma will likely crash into Australia's Queensland coast over the weekend but it doesn't mean New Zealand is safe from a barrage of wet and wild weather.

Hundreds of model outlooks for the cyclone, which overnight upgraded to a category 3, now agreed Oma was heading towards the Queensland coast, MetService meteorologist Lisa Murray said.

However, wild weather was on the way for New Zealand and should not be taken lightly as the weather watchdog was likely to issue a spate of weather watches and warnings tomorrow.

"Regardless of Oma, there is significant weather on the way," Murray said.

Today, the cyclone would continue to move southwest, to lie over the southern Coral Sea by the end of Thursday.

It would then track west-southwest towards the Queensland coast.

In Vanuatu, heavy rain, winds and storm surges from the cyclone uprooted trees, destroyed homes and food crops in Torba and Sanma provinces.

The Vanuatu Daily Post reported the main damage on all islands was coastal destruction.

Widespread damage was also reported in New Caledonia after power was knocked out for thousands of homes as well as downing trees and flooding roads.

As many as 76 households in the village of Olboe had lost their taro gardens to flash flooding.

Back at home, showers were expected today in Auckland, possibly becoming heavy in the afternoon.

"On Thursday there would be more showers, with a moist northerly flow. On Friday showers will persist and become heavy."

Forecasts then showed a low approaching the North Island from the Tasman Sea late on Friday and Saturday, bringing rain to much of the island.

It would likely interact with cold air from the south to form a deep low, which would increase the intensity of wet weather to much of the island, Murray said.

The low approaching from the Tasman Sea could develop into a deep system east of the country on Sunday, bringing rain and strong winds to much of the country, especially in the east from Canterbury to Wairarapa.

Rain was expected in Northland on Friday through to Saturday morning.

Heavy rain was predicted in North Otago, Canterbury, Marlborough, Wellington and Wairarapa on Sunday.

Severe south to southwesterly gales were also expected in exposed places on Sunday including: Canterbury, Marlborough, Wellington, Horowhenua Kapiti Coast and Wairarapa including the Tararua District.

"On Friday things take a turn from some of the wet weather from the north, there will be some bands of rain and some heavy showers."

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