22 Feb 2016

Winston tracks south, weakening

12:37 pm on 22 February 2016
Tropical cyclone forecast track map.

Tropical cyclone forecast track map. Photo: Fiji Met Service

Cyclone Winston is now tracking south in open waters between Fiji and Vanuatu.

A meteorologist with the New Zealand Meteorological Service, Lisa Murray, says Winston has been downgraded to a category four storm, with winds at its centre of 176 kilometres an hour.

She says the cyclone no longer poses a significant threat as it is not expected to make landfall again.

Ms Murray says there is a possibility the storm will reach New Zealand in the next 48 hours, but by then will have weakened significantly and no longer be a tropical cyclone.

"It will remain over open water over the next 48 hours. There is a chance then you know, there's differing ideas in the global weather models, but there is an increased risk today in the latest run that it could affect northern parts of New Zealand."

Meanwhile, flights are resuming to and from Fiji today after Cyclone Winston forced cancellations at the weekend.

Air New Zealand said its two scheduled flights today would go ahead - the first left from Auckland to Nadi at 9.30 this morning and a return flight would depart this afternoon.

The airline is putting on bigger planes to increase capacity in and out of Fiji.

A spokesperson said flights were expected to continue as scheduled for the rest of the week.

The Fiji government said Fiji Airways flights were expected to resume today - the airline would make getting tourists who wanted to return home a priority.