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Ita to wreak havoc in NZ

Max Gonzalez, Tuesday April 15, 2014 - 13:14 EST

Ex-Tropical Cyclone Ita has now been downgraded to an extra-tropical low as it tracks southeast along the southern Coral Sea on a direct collision course with New Zealand's North Island. Although Ita's characteristics have metamorphosised into an extra-tropical system (i.e. a cold core system) it has potential to cause more damage in Aotearoa than it did in QLD.

Ita is likely to combine with a Tasman Low currently driving heavy rain and showers to the western South Island by Thursday. Loaded with tropical moisture, Ita is likely to bring heavy rain (in the order of 100-200mm) to the North Island and the western South Island between Thursday and Friday.

The super-system will also bring strong to severe gale force winds across the upper two thirds of the nation with the strongest winds likely to be in the vicinity of the Cook Strait.

The system is then likely to track southwest parallel to the South Island's west coast on Saturday and head into oblivion on the early hours of Sunday as it dissipates in the vastness of the Southern Ocean.

By then, Ita's life would have spanned 19 days (being born on April fools day) causing extensive damage in four countries including PNG, Solomon Islands and Australia where as a Severe TC Ita make landfall close to Cape Flattery last Friday night as a category 4. The system then degraded quickly into a category 1 but during the weekend, Ita brought 200-400mm of rainfall to QLD's North Coast and the Upper Herbert with a further 50-200mm across the Central Coast & the Whitsundays.

Wind gusts averaged 100 to 110km/h along the coast as the system moved south, bringing a storm surge of 1.1 metre in Cooktown and a 0.7m storm surge in Townsville. No lives were lost in Australia but the damage to the sugar cane and banana's industry is said to be extensive. Unfortunately, resident in the Solomon Islands were not so lucky with 21 confirmed deaths due to flash flooding.

- Weatherzone

© Weatherzone 2014

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