Cyclone Gita: What you need to know before the storm hits

Cyclone Gita is expected to hit New Zealand around Tuesday, bowling in with severe rain and winds that could range close to 1000km wide.

Although no one knows exactly where she'll hit, many will be wondering what they can do to get ready for the storm.

To help you prepare, forecaster WeatherWatch has released a list of pointers, and advised Kiwis to cancel plans and batten down the hatches.


WeatherWatch's guide to Cyclone Gita:

We are camping and on holiday, what should we do?

If you're flexible and can leave it to the last minute, wait until Sunday to see if you're in a serious risk zone. Some areas may just have the usual wind and rain, but there's a high risk that others could be hit with dangerous conditions.

Cyclones can ramp up very quickly - sometimes preceded by fairly normal wind or rain, which can give people a false understanding of what is yet to come in.

What should I do before the storm hits?

A cyclone is a good reminder that in New Zealand, we should all have emergency kits.

Each kit needs enough food and water for three days per person and including pets!

Gutters on houses and roads should be cleared before heavy rain to ensure there is lower risk of flooding.

Ensure you have batteries for a radio and a charger for your cellphone that can be plugged into a car.

Will Gita be damaging?

It's hard to answer this farl in advance but the storm definitely has the potential to be damaging.

Two important factors remain: the precise area of landfall, and the strength of the storm as it crosses New Zealand and moves away. We can't lock this in for another day or two so it's hard to be more detailed on damage potential.

What sort of severe weather can we expect?

We can't answer this until we know the precise location of the centre of the low when it crosses New Zealand. The mountains and ranges play a huge role in severe weather in New Zealand - making for stronger winds in some areas and heavier rain for others. So the tracking of the centre of the low along with the structure of the winds and rain are what we look for closer to the time and the day itself.

How long will it last?


At this early stage the worst winds should last less than 24 hours and may affect regions across both islands.

The very worst winds are likely to be within a 900km diameter. New Zealand is 1600km long. This places a lot of people in the path of gale force winds.


At this stage the heaviest rain could last up to 48 hours for some areas in central New Zealand. 

There are two rain bands - one that will develop over New Zealand before the low and the other attached to the centre of storm as it moves in.

Is this just hype?

No. The potential for damage and risk to property and life is there with this storm if people aren't sensible. People should not go tramping, sailing, or other high-risk outdoors activities.

While the storm may weaken more than is currently forecast, there remains a significant chance that a few million people are in the path of severe weather.

These storms operate differently to most of the severe weather events New Zealand faces each month. It would be more dangerous to not talk about the risks.

Will this be like Bola or Giselle?

No two cyclones are the same. They are as individual and unique as human beings are. Every storm has a different history. In saying that, news reporters will always find someone who says, "This was worse than Bola" - that can be locally true.

But each storm has a set of unique moving parts which means they all behave differently and affect different places in different ways.