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Cyclone Atu intensifies into Category 3

cyclone-atu-becomes-category-3

The outer bands of Tropical Cyclone Atu continue pushing high cloud over the upper North Island this morning.

The latest oceanic warning by the crown forecaster says that Atu remains a cyclone with the air pressure at 945 hPa.

The cyclone is as wide as New Zealand (over 1 500 km across) and this morning it continues to dwarf the North Island as it begins its 48 journey past the country. Atu is not going to hit New Zealand, with all forecasters and models agreeing it will pass well to the east of the North Island – but it’s no doubt a close call for North Islanders.

As of 3:30am Thursday Atu’s centre was 650 km north east of Cape Reinga, 750 km north east of Auckland and 780 km NNE of East Cape.

Information on the system is a little more sketchy at this latitude, as it leaves the Fijian authorities and moves into MetService’s area of responsibility. However unlike Australia and Fiji, New Zealand’s government forecaster doesn’t provide tracking or specific maps and updates on tropical systems outside of their marine forecasts and normal weather charts.

Atu’s “tropical cyclone” status will soon no longer apply with Atu currently in the process of becoming extra-tropical – meaning he’s losing his warm core and is developing into a more “typical” low that we’d see around New Zealand fuelled by cold conditions.

However cyclone Atu still remains a serious storm that is causing rough seas around the eastern North Island. The main issue will be dangerous rips along our eastern beaches – especially dangerous with sunny, hot, calm weather at many North Island beaches over the next two days and beachgoers perhaps not realising what is happening out to sea.

People who are heading to the beach on Thursday and Friday from Northland to Bay of Plenty and from Friday to Sunday from East Cape and Gisborne to Hawkes Bay are advised to be aware of dangerous rips.

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