Severe Tropical Cyclone Gita has reached Category 5 status today over warm ocean waters 1800kms north of Auckland, New Zealand.
The Fiji MetService confirmed this in their 7am advisory, saying the air pressure has also dropped to 927hPa.
Winds are sustained at well over 200km/h with gusts over 250km/h, potentially closer to 280km/h if further strengthening continues today.
WeatherWatch.co.nz says there has been little change in the reliable international modelling and private data we trusted from last Thursday when we first mentioned the storm and the potential of it hitting New Zealand.
"Today Government Agencies NIWA and MetService have now also said this cyclone is likely to hit New Zealand next week.
"The most intense part of this cyclone is smaller than the North Island, so it's precise intensity and tracking makes all the difference on which parts of New Zealand will be worst affected, however it does appear it will come into the western side of the North Island or perhaps the Cook Strait area. It will take two or three more days to be more precise on this. Heavy rain could be an issue for the upper South Island too."
Timing-wise it looks like Tuesday or Wednesday next week may be when it may makes landfall in western NZ.
"The storm will weaken slowly over cooler waters in the Tasman Sea (compared to the tropics where it started) but it may be still equal to a Category 2 cyclone when it makes landfall in New Zealand (technically they go from being 'tropical' cyclones to 'extra-tropical' in the New Zealand area due to being so far south of the equator," says the weather organisation.
"The central core of the storm transitions from being warm to cold. This is a technical change which usually changes the central shape of the storm but doesn't always mean the storm will be less intense)."
Cyclone Gita highlights:
• Tropical Cyclone Gita is today located around 21.0S, 178.6W, directly to the south of Fiji.
• It is 1800kms north of Auckland.
• It is currently Category 5 - the highest on the cyclone scale.
• Gita will track with an anticlockwise curve, passing the southeast of southern Vanuatu and New Caledonia in the days ahead and then directly southward into the Tasman sea passing to the west of Norfolk island.
• Models suggests it will make landfall into the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand as an extra-tropical cyclone in the middle of next week, although there is still large uncertainty about the timing and intensity.
• Power cuts, road closures, flooding and wind damage are possible in New Zealand next week.
• Dangerous seas around northern New Zealand from late Sunday