Weather: Tropical cyclone tracking towards New Zealand, but 'obstacle' in way

New Zealand may escape a swiping from a tropical cyclone developing east of Australia that is drifting into our region of the Pacific. 

According to Weatherwatch, a weather system hovering over the Coral Sea - located east of Queensland - has a high chance of developing into a cyclone on Friday or Saturday. It could then become a severe category 3 storm. The weather forecaster says the Coral Sea is an incredibly warm section of the ocean, perfect conditions to fuel a tropical cyclone. 

"March is the peak of the Tropical Cyclone season so a tropical storm at this time of year in the South-West Pacific is normal,"  head forecaster Philip Duncan says.

"Sea surface temperatures are now at their warmest and this storm will be in an ideal area to grow with all the right ingredients and fuel."

Once developed, the tropical cyclone could be pulled southeastwards by another system. Forecasts show the system tracking past the Norfolk Islands, northwest of New Zealand's North Island, and then past the top of Aoteaora. It would then move down the country's east.

Weather: Tropical cyclone tracking towards New Zealand, but 'obstacle' in way
Photo credit: Weatherwatch.

Weatherwatch says it's too early to predict what exact impact it could have on New Zealand, if any, but computer modelling suggests its drift to the south-east will happen between March 16 and 20.

Kiwis may escape a lashing thanks to a high-pressure system developing in the Tasman Sea which could begin moving towards New Zealand around the same time. Weatherwatch describes this as a "large obstacle" to the cyclone and may protect the country from its wrath.

"If the high moves in first it's a bit like a truck reversing out into traffic, the low will either stop in its tracks, or have to take a different route out to sea around New Zealand."

If the tropical cyclone did swipe across New Zealand, it would likely bring enough rain to end the drought that is hurting the country's agriculture sector. Weatherwatch does, however, say it would also likely bring slips, flooding and severe wind.