By MetService Communications Meteorologist Lisa Murray

Please note: all times listed below are New Zealand local time

Infrared satellite image (indicating cold cloud top temperatures) showing the location of TC Winston at 8.50am Friday 19th February 2016. Note the circle in centre of the TC showing clearly the eye of the TC.


Tropical Cyclone (TC) Winston was named by RSMC Nadi at 1pm on February 11th, 8 days ago, located to the east of Vanuatu.  Since then, TC Winston has tracked southeast before turn northeast and is now heading westerly towards Fiji.

Image created by MetService using WeatherScape.


TC Winston was located near 17.5S 173.3W about 200nm (370km) northwest of Niue moving west at 5 knots (9km/h) this afternoon (Friday 19th February). The central pressure of the cyclone was estimated to be 940hPa, making it a Category 4 cyclone. Maximum winds near the centre were estimated to be 100 knots (185km/h) with gales extending up to 150nm (280km) from the centre.

Forecast track for Severe TC Winston from RSMC Nadi’s (Fiji Meteorological Service). (TWC 43)

Future track

Over the next 24 hours hurricane winds near the centre of TC Winston are expected to continue. The tropical cyclone is expected to continue to move in a west southwest direction over the island of Lakeba and towards Kadavu. The affects of Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston are also expected to be felt on the main Island of Fiji, Viti Levu given the current track.

Range of possible future tracks for Severe TC Winston based on ECMWF data.  Image from NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory.


Impact on NZ

There are currently no direct impacts expected for New Zealand as TC Winston moves westward. In the future there is chance that the track will move southerly, with most tracks to the east of New Zealand. MetService meteorologists are monitoring this tropical cyclone closely and provide tropical updates daily via the Tropical Cyclone Activity page on where you can also see hourly satellite imagery.

With tropical cyclones there is always some uncertainly associated with the tracks they will take, so we advise people in New Zealand and planning travel to the Pacific to keep up to date with the latest forecasts. We will post further updates on TC Winston in the coming days, and as always, you can keep up to date with the latest forecasts and warnings at

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Tropical Cyclone Programme has been established to help emergency managers and the public prepare for tropical cyclones and minimise the loss of life and damage they can cause.  Under this programme, MetService is designated as the Wellington Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre (TCWC) and, together with Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre (RSMC) Nadi , is responsible for official warnings and advisories for tropical cyclones in the South Pacific.  Any severe weather effects for New Zealand caused by tropical cyclones will be included in Severe Weather Warnings, Watches and Outlooks, as well as marine warnings and forecasts.