The Eye of Cyclone Cook

Intercepting the Eye of Cyclone Cook as it tracks across the Pacific and makes landfall with ferocious winds and causes widespread flooding.

Bay of Plenty, New Zealand / April 2017.

Cyclone Cook formed near Vanuatu before tracking South-East making landfall in New Zealand (as an ex-Cyclone). Due to the severity of the storm, Schools were shut and people were told to stay home. I of course, was up early with fellow storm chaser Nicole to intercept the eye and eye wall.

The direction of a Cyclone can be notoriously difficult to forecast. With Cyclone Cook, this was no exception. The US model forecast an earlier impact, slightly to the West of the Bay of Plenty Region (near the Coromandel) whereas the Euro model forecast a later impact, tracking East over the Bay of Plenty towards Whakatane.

We arrived into Tauranga early morning. The swell was up and already raining quite heavily. I noticed some daredevils surfing, so got the camera out, filmed it and posted it. The media came calling and I did a couple of interviews. Just before midday, we heard that the entire East Coast of the Coromandel was being evacuated, so we decided to head north. We witnessed some large swell at Whiritoa, but I had a gut feeling that we were in the wrong spot. We reassessed the models and made a collective decision to head South. I’m glad we made that decision. When we arrived into Papamoa, it was as if someone had flicked a switch. The wind had picked up and I was recording gusts of 60km/hr. We continued South and found ourselves at a small beach town community of Pukehina. Gusts of over 100km/hr were recorded, I couldn’t keep my camera tripod secure and ended up destroying one of my camera lenses. We got some great shots and then made our way back to Tauranga come nightfall. It was at this point we hit the rain – torrential downpours which made driving extremely perilous.

Thankfully, there were no deaths, however some rather bad damage to the surrounding area.

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