Weather – Significant spell of wet and windy easterlies for 12 months – Cyclone Gabrielle

30 June 2023

As many of you would be aware, this year’s Cyclone Gabrielle was one of the worst storms to hit Aotearoa New Zealand in living history.

Like other infamous cyclones Bola (1988), Giselle (1968) and an unnamed cyclone of 1936, Gabrielle wreaked havoc across the country, particularly in Te Ika a Maui/ the North Island.

As part of the deluge that fell between February 12-14, some areas recorded rainfall amounts of 300-400mm, with wind gusts reaching 130-140km/h. In fact, the biggest wave recorded (10.9m) was right here in the Bay of Islands.

The last 12 months more broadly have been exceptionally wet and according to the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), we’re in for an unsettled start to the winter months as well, with high impact weather events including heavy rain and gusty winds highly possible.

This is looking to change once we hit July and transition from the El Niña weather pattern to the El Niño. In terms of rainfall, while June will start out unsettled, overall for winter NIWA predicts Northland will receive average or below average rainfall.

With regards to temperatures in the region, NIWA expects we’ll see near or above average temperatures throughout the winter months. Despite this, however, winter 2023 could feel cooler relative to recent winters due to El Niño and the southerly winds expected.

As we look towards spring and summer, NIWA warns it is seeing a lot of sinking air in our region. The last time we saw that type of weather pattern was in Spring 2019, which triggered one of NZ’s worst drought events in the last century. NIWA therefore warns we will need to be on heightened alert for dryer than normal conditions and to prepare accordingly.

Check out the NIWA winter weather predictions in full here.