Weather: First tropical cyclone expected in next 32 hours

The first tropical cyclone of the season is expected to form in the next 32 hours.

Fiji's MetService has issued a warning for tropical depression TD01F, which is expected to intensify into a category 1 tropical cyclone.

"Our friends at @FijiMet are forecasting this area of swirling thunderstorms to become #CycloneRita by Monday as it moves southeast and well northwest of Fiji," New Zealand forecaster NIWA says.

"Rita would be the first tropical cyclone (named storm) of the 2019-20 Southwest Pacific season."

New Zealand's MetService has issued a tracking map showing its path. 

"It is a compact system+not unusual for the time of year-but is bringing gales and heavy rain to a populated part of the Pacific," it says.

"Heavy rain and strong winds are forecast to affect many parts of Vanuatu during this forecast period."

Between nine and 12 cyclones will move across the southwest Pacific between November and April. New Zealand is typically affected by one ex-tropical cyclone per year.

"The average number of named tropical cyclones in the southwest Pacific (including the Coral Sea) is about 10 per season," Chris Noble, manager of New Zealand's Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre (TCWC), said last month.

"This season, cyclone activity is expected to be near average."

But that doesn't mean Kiwis should be lax.

"All communities throughout the south Pacific, including New Zealand, are encouraged to prepare for the coming cyclone season and remain vigilant for developing cyclones or other severe weather," said Noble.

"It does not take a direct hit or a severe cyclone to cause significant damage or life-threatening weather."