Twin cyclones may hit New Zealand next week

WELLINGTON (AA): Already reeling from the impact of cyclone “Gabrielle,” New Zealand may be hit by a pair of tropical cyclones next week, meteorologists said on Sunday.

The pair may form in the South Pacific next week, with a potential risk of more rain and swells for eastern parts of New Zealand, local English daily New Zealand Herald reported citing MetService, the country’s official meteorology department.

However, unlike Gabrielle, the chances of another direct hit on the country are considered low at this stage, the newspaper reported.

According to the MetService, a tropical low moving westward towards South Pacific Ocean county, Vanuatu, this afternoon was likely to develop into a tropical cyclone early this week.

“Potentially 2 tropical cyclones developing this week. At this stage, the risk of either directly impacting New Zealand is relatively low. However, there is a lot to happen before the track becomes certain so things could change,” it said in a Twitter post.

Police on Sunday continued the search for at least eight people still missing after Gabrielle struck the nation two weeks ago, authorities said.

Gabrielle lashed New Zealand’s northern region on Feb. 12, and subsequently battered the east coast, leaving at least 11 dead and displacing thousands.

Historically, late February and early March mark the height of New Zealand’s November-to-April cyclone season.

Each season, around nine cyclones formed in the southwest Pacific, of which at least one traveled within 550 kilometers (342 miles) of the country, the newspaper reported.