Christmas forecast: a plethora of possibilities

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Uncertainty abounds. Tropical Depression 04F is set to become the first Tropical Cyclone of the season in the Southwest Pacific, about 300km north-west of Nadi, Fiji.

From the track of the storm, to the eventual strength and impact around the Southwest Pacific, quite a bit is still up in the air.

And that’s what is making it more difficult than usual for NIWA climate scientists to predict the weather on Christmas Day.

What do we know?

  • The storm is producing 45km/h sustained winds and gusts to 60 km/h.
  • Heavy rain and thunderstorms are occurring along and to the west of Fiji’s main island.

What do we expect short term?

  • The storm is anticipated to strengthen into Tropical Cyclone Bart later in the next 24 to 48 hours as it slowly tracks southward, west of Fiji.
  • Squally rain and thunderstorms are expected across Fiji this weekend, possibly leading to flooding.

XMAS-UNCERTAINTYDec2016.jpg

Tropical Depression 04F is set to become the first Tropical Cyclone of the season  

What do we expect long term?

  • Early next week, the storm is expected to slowly track southward into the open waters of the South Pacific.
  • Thereafter, there are myriad of potential track and intensity outcomes, all of which makes the holiday weather particularly difficult to predict this far out.
  • There is at least some risk for the storm (or what is left of it) to have an impact around New Zealand in the days leading up to Christmas or on Christmas Day itself.

If if follows track A on the graphic,  then active weather over the Tasman Sea could eventually spill down and impact New Zealand over Christmas.

If the system tracks southeast—track B—then parts of New Zealand may be in store for some wet, warm, humid and gusty Christmas conditions. Track C offers cooler, drier and more settled weather.

Tracks B and C could generate an unusually heavy swell along the east coast of the North Island (surfers take note!). Finally, track D might imply a weaker storm away from New Zealand, giving settled weather a better chance.

This is a fluid weather situation that is likely to change over the next few days.

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