Winston weakens as it heads toward NZ

  • 24/02/2016
A handout picture provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows Cyclone Winston over Fiji (AAP)
A handout picture provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows Cyclone Winston over Fiji (AAP)

Tropical Cyclone Winston, which has devastated Fiji, is now showing signs of weakening as it turns west into cooler ocean waters.

It has sustained winds of 130km/h with gusts of 157km/h, and should largely bypass New Zealand, says the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.

At least 29 people are now confirmed dead in the aftermath of the category five cyclone, according to Fiji's national broadcaster.

Cyclone Winston made landfall late on Saturday as the most powerful storm in Fiji's history, delivering gusts as high as 325km/h.

Aid groups and government authorities have been racing to deal with a critical need for clean water, health supplies and emergency accommodation after powerlines, roads, jetties and homes were destroyed and damaged across the island nation.

NIWA says it expects the cyclone will continue to weaken as it turns west, where it is forecast to pass up to 300km north of Norfolk Island tomorrow.

Although the storm should pass well north of New Zealand, some indirect impacts may be felt across the country.

The northern North Island could experience a moderate northeast swell on Thursday and high levels of humidity with possible downpours are forecast across the North Island in the weekend.

NIWA says at this stage it believes the remnants of Winston should remain over the southern Coral Sea or northern Tasman Sea into early next week.

NZN