Where will Cyclone Gita hit NZ? '(That's) the million dollar question', says MetService

As Cyclone Gita was this morning upgraded to a mammoth Category 5 storm, New Zealand meteorologists are describing its possible course towards our shores as an unknowable "million dollar question".

Fiji's Meteorological service have Gita with winds of 203 kph, and moving westward slowly towards New Caledonia and Vanuatu for the next two days.

MetService meteorologist Georgina Griffiths says Cyclone Gita will remain in the tropics until the weekend, and which point it will track south.

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But whether it will be towards New Zealand is really impossible to tell at this stage.

"There's still a number of reasonable tracks the system could take as it starts to move out of the tropics late in the weekend," Ms Griffiths says.

"Some of those track more towards the South Island, some towards central New Zealand, some towards Taranaki, New Plymouth area.

"Basically trying to estimate where that system will go once it starts to move out of the tropics is like betting on a game that you don't know the rules."

Ms Griffiths says once it leaves the tropics on the weekend it will no longer be classified as a tropical cyclone, but it is expected to still be an "intense" system.

"As soon as it comes under some wind share in the Tasman, it's going to lose some of it's tropical cyclone characteristics, so it's going to become a different beast," she says.

"The models keep it being an intense system. The warm seas around New Zealand are to play a part, we have very warm Tasman sea at the moment which either way, wherever it goes, it looks pretty intense."

MetService will take control of tracking and grading Cyclone Gita once it leaves the tropics, and Ms Griffiths says they should have a better idea on it's direction sometime tomorrow.

If it were to hit New Zealand it could bring heavy wind and rain, swells and storm surges early next week.

"The million dollar question is where," Ms Griffiths says.

"It's going to make a great deal of difference where it tracks to which, if any, of New Zealand gets affected and we just can't say at this stage.

"We can't determine with any degree of confidence."

Even if the system doesn't directly hit New Zealand it is likely to increase humidity levels as it interacts with the unusually warm seas off our shores.

Jane Foster said Oxfam is still waiting for contact to be re-established with two of Fiji's southern Lau islands, after the edge of Gita brushed them yesterday. Source: Breakfast

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