Tropical Cyclone “Gabrielle” forms in the Coral Sea, forecast to rapidly intensify before moving toward New Zealand

tropical cyclone gabrielle at 0630z february 8 2023 f

Tropical Cyclone “Gabrielle” has formed in the Coral Sea as the 3rd named storm of the 2023 Australian region cyclone season. The forecast track takes it near Norfolk Island as a severe category 3 before moving toward New Zealand. The cyclone could bring more rounds of heavy rain to parts of North Island, New Zealand, particularly the Auckland area where extremely heavy and record-breaking rainfall amounts were registered recently.

At 06:00 UTC on February 8, the center of Tropical Cyclone “Gabrielle” was located about 305 km (190 miles) east of Willis Island and about 690 km (430 miles) north-northeast of Mackay, Queensland, Australia.

Gabrielle’s maximum 10-minute sustained winds at the time were 75 km/h (45 mph), with gusts up to 100 km/h (65 mph) while maximum 1-minute sustained winds were 85 km/h (50 mph).

The minimum central barometric pressure was 990 hPa, and the system was moving SSW at 13 km/h (8.1 mph).

tropical cyclone gabrielle at 0630z february 8 2023 bg
Tropical Cyclone “Gabrielle” at 06:30 UTC on February 8, 2023. Credit: JMA/Himawari-8, RAMMB/CIRA, The Watchers
tropical cyclone gabrielle jtwc fcst 09z february 8 2023

Gabrielle is expected to track southwest remaining over water, before re-curving towards the southeast on Thursday, putting it on a likely path towards New Zealand. It will continue on this track until it comes close to Northland late on Sunday, February 12 (LT).

“Although by the time it draws close to the top of the North Island it will have lost its tropical characteristics, it is still expected to be an intense weather system,“ New Zealand’s MetService meteorologist Mmathapelo Makgabutlane said.1

“Likely impacts of this system include heavy rain, gale force winds and large waves leading to dangerous coastal conditions for the upper North Island into early next week.”

There remains uncertainty around the exact path of Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle as it approaches Aotearoa New Zealand, and how things play out will be determined by what happens in the coming days.

“A slight change in atmospheric conditions may influence the track and speed of Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle, which will affect the intensity and location of expected impacts,” adds Makgabutlane.

“This could affect some of the areas which have already seen significant impacts from recent weather events.”

People are advised to continue to stay updated with the latest MetService forecast. 

1 Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle named in the Coral Sea – New Zealand Met Service – February 8, 2023

Featured image: Tropical Cyclone “Gabrielle” at 06:30 UTC on February 8, 2023. Credit: JMA/Himawari-8, RAMMB/CIRA, The Watchers

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