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Tropical Storm Zaka Churns South Pacific February 11, 2011
The compact circulation of Tropical Storm Zaka can be seen passing into Eastern Hemisphere on Monday, between New Zeland and Tonga.
Storm-force Cyclone Zaka became the seventh cyclone in the South Pacific so far this season, but remained far from any significant land areas.

The storm formed just south of the island nation of Tonga, then maintained strength until encountering the cooler waters off the northern end of New Zealand.

But despite passing within about 120 miles of the North Island, not a single cloud associated with Zaka’s circulation passed overhead there.

“The system is so small it may only bring a period of easterly winds for an hour or two ... north of Gisborne," analist Philip Duncan told the New Zealand Press Association.

Meanwhile, climate scientists warned the islands west of Fiji in the Coral Sea and North Tasman region should be prepared for at least five more tropical cyclones until the season ends on April 30.

New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research said it believes at least five more cyclones which may affect Vanuatu, New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea during the period.

Institute climatologist Drew Lorrey blames a pool of “very, very warm water,” and the convergence of the westerlies and easterlies over the region for this season’s increased cyclone development.

Tropical Storm Zaka Track

Satellite Loop Data: CIMSS