Cyclone Pam – the story so far

March 16, 2015

Tropical Cyclone Pam moved into MetService’s Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre area of responsibility in the early hours of Sunday morning. At that time, the predicted track would take the cyclone on a southeast course past East Cape, with warnings and watches issued by MetService for heavy rain, severe gales and heavy swells for the northern and eastern parts of the North Island.

The rain bands started to spread over the North Island on Sunday afternoon with winds strengthening along the eastern shores of Northland, through the Hauraki Gulf, Coromandel and Bay of Plenty. By Sunday night, the wind was observed to gust to 150 km/h near Kaeo in Northland and 144 km/h at Channel Island between Coromandel Peninsula and Great Barrier Island. Steady rain continued to fall in the area, with 51mm recorded at Whangarei Airport and 49mm at Whitianga Airport in the 24 hours to 7am this morning.

The cyclone was re-classified as an intense extra tropical cyclone at 1:15 am this morning, as it continued along its forecast trajectory, with the centre lying 230km east of East Cape at 1pm. Despite being re-classified, this system still has the power to bring the severe weather which is affecting parts of New Zealand. Heavy rainfall continues to fall in the ranges of Gisborne, with accumulations at several stations now in excess of 150mm in the 24 hours to 2pm today, and wind gusts reaching 145km/h at Hicks Bay. Maximum wave heights of 4 metres have been measured at Eastland Port in Gisborne, and these are expected to rise to 5-6 metres this afternoon.

Cyclone Pam has been a significant coastal event for the east coast between North Cape and East Cape. Surfers in those areas will be pleased to hear that as the large seas gradually ease over the next 24 hours, the wind stays offshore (southwesterly) and the swells will clean up nicely over the next 2 days. Cyclone Pam is moving southeast and is expected to maintain its intensity, or may even intensify slightly, reaching the Chatham Islands around midday Tuesday. A warning is now in place for severe gales, heavy rain and heavy swells for the Chathams.

Keep up to date with the latest forecasts and any watches/warnings at metservice.com or on mobile devices at m.metservice.com. You can also follow our updates on MetService TV, at MetService New Zealand on Facebook@metservice on Twitter and at blog.metservice.com.

For further information please contact:
Emma Blades Meteorologist (04) 4700754


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MetService issues Warnings, Watches and Outlooks for severe weather over New Zealand.
Warnings are about taking action:
* When severe weather is imminent or is occurring
* Issued only when required
* Recommendation: ACT
Watches are about being alert:
* When severe weather is possible, but not sufficiently imminent or certain for a Warning to be issued
* Issued only when required
* Recommendation: BE READY
Outlooks are about looking ahead:
* To provide advance information on possible future Watches and/or Warnings
* Issued routinely once or twice a day
* Recommendation: PLAN
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