11 Mar 2013

Solomon Islands and New Caledonia under alert for cyclone Sandra

7:08 am on 11 March 2013

A tropical cyclone warning is still in force for much of the Solomon Islands.

The Solomon metservice says cyclone Sandra is a category four cyclone, and early this morning was about 300 nautical miles southeast of Rennell Island.

It says people can expect gale force winds to develop over Rennell & Bellona, Southern Guadalcanal, Makira and Temotu Province with seas rough to very rough and moderate to heavy swells.

The metservice says there is potential of coastal flooding in low lying islands.

And New Caledonia has been put on pre-alert as tropical cyclone Sandra is approaching the territory's northernmost islands.

According to the metservice, the system's centre is expected to be west of Belep by tonight.

It has sustained winds of 140 kilometres an hour, with gusts in excess of 200 kilometres an hour.

It is forecast to move slowly in a south-easterly direction, parallel to the main island's west coast.

At the beginning of the year, New Caledonia's north was hit by tropical depression Freda, which caused damage worth ten million US dollars.