Once a tropical cyclone moving through the Tasman Sea, Uesi, now a tropical rainstorm, will still pack a punch as it impacts New Zealand this weekend despite weakening.
Uesi has taken a southeasterly track the last few days and is currently aiming for the southern tip of New Zealand’s South Island.
It was a cloudy start to the weekend across much of the South Island on Saturday as the storm approached. Rain began to move into the area through Saturday night.
Seas and waves also increased throughout Saturday. Waves as high as 6 to 8 meters (20-26 feet) approached the northwestern facing shores of the island.
The above visible satellite image shows Uesi churning in the Tasman Sea between southeastern Australia and New Zealand late Friday, Feb. 14, local time (Photo/RAMMB).
“Rain that increased throughout the evening on Saturday across the southern half of the South Island will persist through Sunday,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Adam Douty.
The clockwise spin of Uesi will bring the heaviest rainfall to the northwestern side (the windward side) of the island as waves of rain and thunderstorms push onshore.
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Rainfall amounts of 50-100 mm (2-4 inches) will be possible from the town of Hokitika, located along the mountainous and remote northern shore, to Milford Sound.
An AccuWeather Local StormMax™ 10 inches of rain is possible in the highest terrain. This stretch includes both Mount Aspiring National Park and Mount Cook National Park. The steep terrain will be susceptible to slips and mudslides, especially with the amount of rainfall forecast.
Visitors, residents and hikers alike should be cautious if they plan to explore either national park over the weekend.
On the other side of the higher terrain, very little precipitation will be expected. This will keep the Christchurch area mostly dry, despite Uesi’s proximity.
Through Sunday, Uesi will be approaching the southern tip of the South Island where it will produce the greatest wind impacts.
“Although Uesi may not actually make landfall, the center of the storm will approach southwestern tip of the South Island, where the strongest winds will be most likely,” Douty said.
Wind gusts of 64-80 km/h (40-50 mph) are possible, with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 96 km/h (60 mph) right at the coast or in the high elevations of western New Zealand.
This wind, coinciding with rounds of heavy rain, may topple trees and cause power outages and coastal flooding.
The storm’s southern track will allow the North Island of New Zealand to go through the weekend rather unscathed. Only a stray shower and some breezy conditions are expected in places like Wellington, New Plymouth and Auckland.
Uesi is unlikely to be the last tropical concern for New Zealand or Australia in the coming weeks. Forecasters monitoring long-range forecasts indicate some tropical activity is possible on the northern end of Australia near the end of February.
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